Sexual diversity may seem more widely accepted, but it’s still a sensitive topic in Islam to this day. Also in Belgium, queer Muslims are looking for a way to embrace their homosexuality despite being told their religion forbids it.
‘What would you think if I would marry a woman?’, Zahra Choua asked her father one day in 2006. Back then, she was just a teenager, experiencing a crush on a female classmate and asking bold questions at the kitchen table. Afflictive questions, because Zahra is the daughter of a Belgian mother and a Moroccan father. Together with her sister Saddie, they all live together in a house where Zahra quickly learned that homosexuality is taboo, and even forbidden.
The story of Zahra, currently 34 years old, is one of many. Even now in 2020, queer Muslims often struggle with the dilemma of how you can embrace your homosexuality when you are told your religion forbids it. Dadda Oumarou knows what this feels like. She’s 21, lives in Brussels and is originally from Cameroon where 20% of the population is Muslim. At the age of 19, she discovered that she is bisexual and was told she shouldn’t be.
OPEN TO INTERPRETATION
Why is the Muslim community struggling with homosexuality? During a conversation with Islamic teacher and volunteer at the Network of Islam experts Soufiane Benatmane, much has to do with the Quran being open to interpretation about homosexuality. One specific story plays an important role: the Story of Lot, in which a community would ignore God and be guilty of many sins, including homosexual acts.
Not all Muslims support this specific interpretation, and also Dadda and Zahra have different beliefs. However, Benatmane is clear about one vision. ‘We always associate homosexuality with hate, but that idea has to change. The Quran does not mention that it’s forbidden to be homosexual’, Benatmane clarifies. ‘God created you like this, so why would it be your fault?’
Listen to the full podcast ‘Queer Muslims in 2020: They Exist, But How Are They Doing?’ on Soundcloud or down below: