D.C. imam provides counseling, weddings and prayer space for gay Muslims

RNS-GAY-IMAM(RNS) Imam Dayaiee Abdullah never knows how many people are going to show up for Friday prayers.

Some weeks, nearly a dozen men and women gather at a Quaker hall in northwest Washington, D.C., where they kneel on prayer rugs laid out to transform the room into a Muslim place of worship.

Other weeks, Abdullah, a convert to Islam, sits alone.

He may be the only openly gay imam in the world, and he formed Light of Reform mosque more than two years ago so people like himself could worship without fear.

The mosque is one of just a few in the world where openly gay Muslims are welcome, but even there, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fear harassment, and often stay away.

“There’s been a lot of hate speech,” Abdullah said. “I’m doing the work they refuse to do,” he added, referring to other imams.

Life is changing for gay Muslims, even if the changes seem infinitesimally small. A gay-friendly mosque opened near Paris last year. A lesbian Muslim couple from Pakistan married in a civil service this year in England.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

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GAYChristianity, Judaism, and Islam need to break the gay taboo

It is almost spring, and love, of the gay variety, seems truly to be in the air. The last few weeks have brought a constant stream of good news for LGBT communities in Europe, not to mention encouraging developments in the United States and even within the Catholic Church.

British and French MPs spread the love in the run up to Valentine’s Day by giving non-heterosexual marriage a resounding vote of confidence, while Germany’s Constitutional Court ruled in favour of so-called “successive adoption” by same-sex couples.

Across the Atlantic, where same-sex marriage has faced stiff opposition from religious and social conservatives, a pro-gay marriage ad campaign featuring prominent Democrats and Republicans, including Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, has just been released, while there is talk that Barack Obama is planning to utilize the Supreme Court to push for same-sex matrimony.

Homosexuals, not to mention feminists, have toasted to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, who “made homophobia one of his battle cries”, according to one activist. This has left many in the LGBT community hopeful that the next and future popes will be more relaxed towards questions of sexuality, while activists have been urging the Vaticanto wake up to reality.

“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,”  wrote Cardinal Ratzinger, the Holy Father’s previous incarnation, in an opinion he wrote for his predecessor Pope John Paul II in 2003 on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Why? Apparently, because “marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law”.

Although the argument that homosexuality is unnatural is contrary to the available scientific evidence and undoubtedly angers gay communities and their supporters, this idea is common not only in the Catholic Church, but in other branches of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

However, despite Ratzinger’s protestations, deep, deep inside Christianity’s historic closet, there was greater tolerance of homosexuality than appears at first sight. Although the medieval and pre-modern church, especially during the various inquisitions, was well-known for persecuting and killing homosexuals, it may, at least at times, have been rather gay-friendly.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HA’ARETZ 

Liberian Christians and Muslims campaign against gay marriage

MONROVIA, Liberia — A few hundred Liberians representing the Christian and Muslim faiths and civil society organizations gathered here Saturday to launch a campaign to press the government to ban same-sex marriage.

The campaign is seeking 1 million signatures supporting a resolution to ban gay and lesbian activities here.5

More than 25,000 signatures have already been gathered, the head of the citizens’ movement spearheading the campaign, Jim Tornonlah, told The Associated Press.

The Liberian senate recently passed a bill strengthening the law against homosexuality. It must be approved by the House of Representatives before it is sent to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to sign into law.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST