Orlando shooting: It’s different now, but Muslims have a long history of accepting homosexuality


Orlando shooting: It’s different now, but Muslims have a long history of accepting homosexuality
Muslim societies have ignored their own history of accepting homosexuality, latching on to a twisted colonial legacy instead.
 
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Mateen had boasted of links to the Islamic State, Islamic State as well as Hezbollah. While all three groups are well-known West Asian insurgents, they are also at war with one another and represent widely differing theological views. US investigators said that Mateen did not seem to understand the distinction between the groups – a point that makes it difficult to square with the charge of Islamist terror that was considered in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Mateen was killed by the police on Sunday after he opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, in a tragedy that was among the deadliest mass shootings in American history.

The 29-year-old was reportedly a regular at Pulse and even used a gay dating app. Reports of him having asked men out have surfaced over the last few days, with his ex-wife claiming she believed he was gay. She also said that Mateen’s father, an immigrant from Afghanistan, had mocked him for his sexual orientation. One of the first statements made by Mateen’s father after the shooting was, in fact, that homosexuals can be punished by God.

Stigmatising homosexuality

Could the attack, then, have been driven by Mateen’s sexual orientation and the shame associated with homosexuality amongst Muslims today – rather than Islamist terror? “Transgressive sexuality and conservative religion can be a toxic mix,” writes David Shariatmadari in the Guardian. “If Mateen felt conflicted about his interest in gay men, it could have been because he believed his faith would condemn him for it”.

While a clear motive is yet to be established, it is a fact that modern Muslim societies condemn and shame homosexuality. In most Islamic countries, Muslims cannot come out as gay without risking stigma and bodily harm.

It is, however, important to point out how recent this homophobia is. For much of history, Muslim societies have been incredibly permissive of same-sex love.

Golden Age

At the height of the Islamic Golden Age – a period from the mid-8th century to the mid-13th century when Islamic civilisation is believed to have reached its intellectual and cultural zenith – homosexuality was openly spoken and written about. Abu Nuwas (756-814), one of the great Arab classical poets during the time of the Abbasid Caliphate, wrote publicly about his homosexual desires and relations. His homoerotic poetry was openly circulated right up until the 20th century.

Nuwas was an important historical figure – he even made a couple of appearances in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (known in Urdu as Alif Laila). It was only as late as 2001 that Arabs started to blush at Nuwas’ homoerotism. In 2001, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, under pressure from Islamic fundamentalists, burnt 6,000 volumes of his poetry.

Most modern Muslims, therefore, have little knowledge of what the Islamic Golden Age was really about, even though they keep on wanting to go back to it.

“ISIS have no idea what restoring the Caliphate actually means,” a tweet by Belgian-Egyptian journalist Khaled Diab said. “In Baghdad, it’d involve booze, odes to wine, science… and a gay court poet.”

Baghdad was, till the time the Mongols invaded and destroyed it, the cultural capital of much of the world – the New York City of its time. If Nuwas and his homoerotic poetry could represent the height of Baghdadi culture, it is natural that other Muslim societies would also be quite open to homosexuality. As historian Saleem Kidwai puts in the fabulous book Same-Sex Love in India, “Homoerotically inclined men are continuously visible in Muslim medieval histories and are generally described without pejorative comment.”

Writing on same-sex love

In fact, far from being pejorative, Muslim societies once openly spoke of same-sex love, even celebrating it at times. Mahmud of Ghazni, a towering sultan of his time (971-1030), was actually held up as an ideal for, among other things, deeply loving another man, Malik Ayaz.

Mughal Emperor Babur wrote of his attraction to a boy in the camp bazaar in his 16th-century autobiography – a celebrated work of literature in the medieval Muslim world.

In the 18th century, Dargah Quli Khan, a nobleman from the Deccan travelling to Delhi, wrote a fascinating account of the city called the Muraqqa-e-Dehli (The Delhi Album), which described just how mundane homosexuality was in Indo-Islamic society. At the public bazaars, male prostitutes solicited openly and Khan spoke admiringly of how “young good-looking men danced everywhere and created great excitement”.

Till the 19th century, Muslims treated homosexuality as a part and parcel of life, so much so that students were exposed to romantic stories of homosexual love – a position untenable even today across parts of the Western word. Kidwai writes:

Sadi’s classic Gulistan, containing stories of attraction between men, was considered essential reading for Persian students. Ghanimat’s Nau rang-i ishq, a seventeenth century masnavi describing the love affair between the poet’s patron’s son and his beloved Shahid, was a prescribed text in schools.

Islamic law

Of course, theologically, Islam did consider homosexuality to be sinful, based on the Quranic story of the people of Lut (Lot in the Bible). Interestingly, though, the Shariat, the umbrella term for the various legal codes and schools governing Muslim societies, have no punishment for homosexualty per se – sexual relations between men are outlawed under the larger rubric of adultery. Even then, convictions for homosexuality could only be carried out if the sexual act was testified to by four eye witnesses. This was such a high bar that commentators on Islam such as Hamza Yusuf have characterised the outlawing of homosexuality in the Shariat as a sort of “legal fiction”. Indeed, unlike medieval Europe, instances of homosexuals being punished are rare in medieval Muslim societies.

So what caused Muslim societies to go from coolly reading homoerotic poetry to outlawing and stigmatising same-sex love? It’s tough to nail down an exact reason but here’s an interesting coincidence: there are five Muslims countries where being gay isn’t a crime. All that the five – Mali, Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey and Albania – share in common is that they were never colonised by the British.

Colonial influence

In 1858, in fact, the Ottoman Empire decriminalised homosexuality (a status inherited by Turkey). This was two years before the British Raj created the Indian Penal Code, Section 377 of which proceeded to outlaw homosexuality in modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

So deep was the influence of the 1860 penal code in India that conservative Hindus continue to hold homosexuality to be immoral and in the nearly 70 years since Independence, Parliament has not been able to overturn the law. Subramanian Swamy, Member of Parliament from the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party even went so far as to claim: “Our party position has been that homosexuality is a genetic disorder.” This is near-bizarre given that Hinduism, unlike Islam or Christianity, does not even have any textual condemnation of same-sex love.

It appears as though Muslim (and Hindu) conservatives, without knowing it, are actually copying the Victorian mores of 19th century colonialism, while ignoring their own history. This at a time when even Western European cultures have pulled up their socks and gone on to ensure that human rights are available to their people irrespective of random externalities such as the gender they happen to be attracted to.

 

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The Continuum Of Violence: Homophobia Didn’t Start With A Mass Shooting In Orlando


(Image: gaelx, Flickr)
The Continuum Of Violence: Homophobia Didn’t Start With A Mass Shooting In Orlando

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The mass shooting Florida is at the extreme end of the scale of violence against the Queer community. But the source is bigotry, something that is actively promoted in Australia, writes Nick Pendergrast.

It is horrible to hear what has happened in Orlando. More information on this terrorist attack is becoming available as time passes, however, it seems clear that the attack was inspired by homophobic outrage at seeing two men kissing.

In order to address extreme acts of violent homophobia such as this, we have to tackle homophobia all of the way along the spectrum of the ‘continuum of violence’.

Image from the chapter ‘Disability and the Continuum of Violence’ by Dr Andrea Hollomotz – from the book Disability, Hate Crime and Violence.
Image from the chapter ‘Disability and the Continuum of Violence’ by Dr Andrea Hollomotz – from the book Disability, Hate Crime and Violence.

This continuum of violence, outlined in the image above, is one that is explained by Dr Andrea Hollomotz, a lecturer in Disability and Crime, in the book Disability, Hate Crime and Violence (from pages 53-55).

She explains that this notion of a continuum demonstrates a broader understanding of the term “violence” to not only include physical harm but also discriminatory language and other forms of bigotry, such as segregation.

She notes that such actions also have profound effects on the targeted group.

Hollomotz is focusing predominantly on violence against people with disabilities, but notes that this notion of a continuum was first suggested in relation to gendered violence. It is very useful in understanding hate crime generally, including homophobic hate crimes like the attack in Orlando.

While such attacks are certainly at the extreme end of the spectrum in terms of homophobic violence, they should not be viewed as totally separate to other forms of discrimination against queer people, such as homophobic language or stigma around certain sexualities.

All of these actions are based on the same homophobic thinking, and all have the same effect in terms of maintaining existing power imbalances and keeping queer people marginalised.

(IMAGE: Guillame Paumier, Flickr)
(IMAGE: Guillame Paumier, Flickr)

Those individuals who become victims of hate crime are also likely to have been victims of other forms of discrimination along the spectrum, such as discriminatory language, stigma and exclusion.

Likewise, those carrying out hate crimes often start with “lower levels” of bigotry, which are still very harmful, before escalating further down the spectrum of discriminatory violence.

Malcolm Turnbull’s Response and Safe Schools

I have been following Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the attack. He has condemned the attack and while arguing that this is “an attack on all of us” he has acknowledged that this is “a murderous attack on gay people” specifically.

It is not enough for Turnbull to only condemn the violence at the extreme end of the continuum, especially while his government has attacked the Safe Schools Coalition.

This program aims to support queer youth and overcome issues such as stigma and social inclusion in schools. If we are genuinely concerned about stopping attacks like the one in Orlando, it is vitally important to address homophobia all of the way along this spectrum.

Turnbull’s comments that the attack “certainly appears to be motivated by a hatred of the freedoms, the free society which all of enjoy” do nothing to address the root cause of such homophobic hate crimes.

Instead of this empty George W. Bush-type rhetoric about terrorists hating our freedoms, we need to oppose not just this attack but the marginalisation of queer people in all forms.

This means not only supporting programs like Safe Schools, but also opposing homophobic comments from some right-wing politicians and groups in Australia following the Orlando attack.

 

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Leviticus On Gay Tattoos…or Tattoed Bigots…or something


Leviticus On Gay Tattoos…or Tattoed Bigots…or something

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Stupid  -  http://mariopiperni.com/

If you haven’t seen this pic making the rounds again, this guy thought it was smart of him to tattoo Leviticus 18:22 on his arm – a Bible verse that bans homosexuality and refers to it as an abomination.

leviticus-tattoo

Two questions for this idiot with the bigoted tattoo.

1. Why?

2. Does he know what Leviticus 19:28 has to say about tattoos?

American Christian Taliban Threaten Humane Methodist Pastor


VERDICT: Methodist Pastor Has 30 Days To Renounce His Gay Children Or Be Defrocked

By Zack Ford

VERDICT: Methodist Pastor Has 30 Days To Renounce His Gay Children Or Be Defrocked

Rev. Frank SchaeferRev. Frank Schaefer

CREDIT: UMC.org

On Monday, the United Methodist Church convicted Rev. Frank Schaefer on two counts against the Church for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding. On Tuesday, the impaneled jury determined his sentence: Schaefer is suspended for 30 days, and if it at the end of that time he has not renounced his support for marriage equality, he will be defrocked.

Schaefer, however, was unapologetic, refusing the invitation to “repent of your actions”:

SCHAEFER: [The Church] needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation. We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians. […]

I will never be silent again. This is what I have to do. […]

I have to minister to those who hurt and that’s what I’m doing.

Three of Schaefer’s four children identify as gay.

After his sentence was announced, his supporters began overturning chairs in the courtroom, a reference to the biblical story of Jesus and the moneychangers.

Schaefer’s critics framed his actions as “breaking the rules” and “rebuking” the Church.

Update

Watch Rev. Schaefer’s remarks from after the sentencing, committing himself to being an “outspoken advocate” for the LGBT community. He also added that if a same-sex couple asked him to marry them in the next 30 days, he would do it:

 

Priest Condemns Homophobia as Anti-Christ, Religious Right Freaks Out


Religious Right calls priest who condemns homophobia anti-Christ

Is the Very Reverend Gary Hall a tool of Satan?

Jennifer LeClaire, who writes for the conservative Christian magazine Charisma, quotes Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), as saying “Gary Hall of the National Cathedral is sinning when he claims that opposition to homosexuality is a sin. This is counterfeit Christianity in action—transferring the guilt before God from those who are committing sins (of which homosexuality is one) to those who oppose those sins.” LaBarbera calls this an example of a new heretical ‘sin-affirming Christianity’ that poses a danger of spreading within the evangelical Church. Jennifer LeClaire adds that she thinks LaBarbera is “spot-on” and declares she is shocked by the kind of deception the Very Reverend Hall is perpetrating.

Yesterday (Oct. 22), Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (another hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) added his two cents worth in the FRC’s Washington Watch Daily Commentary. He compared the Very Rev. Hall to one of the “false prophets” from the biblical Book of Jeremiah: “they encourage those who do evil, and as a result, no one turns from doing evil.”

So what did Gary Hall say that has the Religious Right so upset? Here’s a sample:

“We must now have the courage to take the final step and call homophobia and heterosexism what they are. They are sin. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin. Only when all our churches say that clearly and boldly and courageously will our LGBT youth be free to grow up in a culture that totally embraces them fully as they are.”

“It’s more than tragic—in fact it’s shameful–that faith communities, especially Christian ones, continue to be complicit in putting our children at risk and abetting the attitudes that oppress them, thereby encouraging the aggressors who would subject our children to pain, humiliation, and violence.”

And after same-sex marriages became legal in Washington DC earlier this year, Hall announced that the National Cathedral would begin to perform the wedding ceremonies.

Religious Right Zealot Blames Gays for North Korea Nuke Threat


Gays blamed for North Korea nuclear threat

 “A few weeks ago, we started listening to Rick Wiles’ “Trunews” radio program because we discovered that he regularly interviews a variety of Religious Right activists that we monitor here.  But since then, we’ve begun listening just because his show – “the only newscast reporting the countdown to the second coming of Jesus Christ” – is also a cavalcade of insanity.

And yesterday’s program was no exception, as Wiles’ grew increasingly worked up about North Korea’s latest threat against the United States, which he blamed on “gay rights fanatics”

Via Right Wing Watch

Mitt Romney | Echoes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


Romneynejad: We didn’t have gays in the 1960s

Via:- Juan

Mitt Romney, accused of harassing gay students when he was in high school, tried to get out of the charge by pretending that being gay was not a big issue in the 1960s.

“Romney moved quickly to counter any suggestion he had targeted students because they were gay.”

“That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case,” he said, adding that the students involved “didn’t come out of the closet until years later.”

As Andrew Sullivan asks, “And there was no homophobia in the 1960s?”

Romney’s attempt to deny that there was consciousness of gayness in a past era resembles the denial by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that there is any consciousness of gayness in Iran today.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies that there are any gays in Iran. “I don’t know who told you we have this:

Is Some Homophobia Self-Phobia?


Is Some Homophobia Self-Phobia?

Over at Science Daily, a report on a study that suggests that the answer is yes:

Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires, a series of psychology studies demonstrates.

The study is the first to document the role that both parenting and sexual orientation play in the formation of intense and visceral fear of homosexuals, including self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies. Conducted by a team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara, the research will be published the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves,” explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study’s lead author.

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