The tragedy that occurred at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida shook the world. Those most effected by this event were the LGBTQIA+ community, because the attack had specifically targeted that population. However, after the event there was a lot of backlash made towards both the general Muslim population and the jointly Muslim and LGBTQIA+ population, specifically homosexuals. There is reason to note that there is great tension between Muslim and non Muslim people within the LGBTQIA+ community itself and also between faith groups, the general population, and homosexuals.
How can we ensure the safety of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the Muslim community?
Oftentimes homosexual individuals within the Muslim community consult with chaplains and scholars and are told that their lifestyle is wrong and they should stifle any kind of homosexual emotions they have, or discontinue holding the gender identities they personally have. This contributes to emotions of guilt for something LGBTQIA+ individuals do not have any control over. Therefore, rather than telling these individuals to change themselves to escape sin it would be better to remind these individuals that they are welcome in the Muslim community.
What are some unpopular opinions surrounding LGBTQIA+ people within the Muslim community?
Some scholars actually believe that homosexuality is not a sin. Some scholars notice from Islamic texts that the prophet Muhammad never dealt with homosexuality in a direct way. Neither did he call for the punishment or persecution of homosexuals on the basis of sexual orientation. For these scholars, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is thought to be a story condemning rape of both males and females, not condemning homosexuality itself. These schools of thought are not widely recognized or spoken of, which leaves many Muslim LGBTQIA+ people feeling incredibly isolated.
How may it be troubling to be a LGBTQIA+ Muslim in America?
Both communities are discriminated against and are also victims of hate crimes. Access to bathrooms and public space, housing, global freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, right to fair trial, right to health care, and right to military service are just some of the rights and privileges that are missing for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only this, but events such as the Stonewall Riots and the Orlando Pulse Shooting remind us of how the LGBTQIA+ community is constantly a target of violence.
Muslims have also been profiled and victimized. Mosques have constantly been subject to interrogation despite not being affiliated with terrorist activities, airport security has been noticeably less lenient towards Muslims, and Muslims have been unethically utilized as test subjects for prison torturedespite a lack of criminal activity. Many Muslims have been left without fair trial and are imprisoned in harsh conditions such as that of Guantanamo Bay. Torture has been cruel and unusual. Not only this, but Muslims across the globe suffer from war and state-induced poverty. Some examples include the lack of water in Palestine, the Syrian war crisis, and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan where there are huge Muslim populations. Muslims are constantly regarded as perpetrators of violence, yet it is easy to ignore that they do face the same set of troubles as other groups.
How can we defeat the stigma against both Muslims and LGBTQIA+ individuals?
We can remind others that one can be both Muslim and LGBTQIA+, and they are not inherently bad or wrong for being the way they are. When individuals struggle with both identities, it can be incredibly difficult to cope.
Who is the real culprit of such disasters?
We tend to ignore that gun violence is not primarily caused by Muslims. What we do find links to is that the majority of gun violence is caused by males. So although radicalization of Muslims may be a problem in certain arenas, the more necessary problem to address is male aggression related gun violence. Males are constantly told to be strong and due to this, they tend to let out their frustrations in a violent way in some cases. Statistics and facts show this.
What policy changes can we make to help LGBTQIA+ individuals, Muslims, and those who suffer from gun violence?
Although it is incredibly difficult to implement, there must be stronger background checkson potential gun holders through history of abuse or criminal activity, or mental health related components. States can also begin to connect firearm registry with the FBI. There must be talk about how individuals can let out anger in more productive ways than taking the lives of others. History of abuse and criminal activity must be strongly observed in order to do background checks and prevent violence. On top of this, we must educate people on how to be more open to individuals who do not share the same backgrounds or philosophies of life with them.