The false dichotomy between queerness and Islam only hurts queer people

Image by: Shelby Talbot

You can either be queer or you can be Muslim.

This is something I’ve thought about more and more this pride month.

For Muslims worldwide, our identities are trapped in this dichotomy. Sometimes the problem is caused by the bigotry present in mainstream Muslim communities, largely driven by colonization and the interests of western powers. But in many instances, we are forced, by western societies, to choose between our dignity and our Muslimness.

Queerness is apparently a gift you’re given when you abandon your faith and its associated culture. 

When, as a Muslim, you say that you don’t feel people should die for being Muslim, particularly those residing in majority-Muslim states, you take a difficult stance. You are strongly opposed by some queer people—especially white queer people. These opposers will say they don’t support a religion‒and by extension a people‒that doesn’t support queer rights.

It’s an argument I have heard repeatedly. Every time I dare to speak out against racism and Islamophobia, I am told to try going to a Muslim country to see how I like it there.

How dare I ask for more when, apparently, here in the west I’m safer than I deserve to be? How dare I open my mouth when Canada has given me so much? Never mind that I was born here. 

White non-Muslim Canadians get to exist separately from their governments, even when those governments enact queerphobic legislation. No white Canadian is told they’re undeserving of rights because the Canadian government has been debating conversion therapy for many months.

Muslims, however, do not get to exist separately from Islamic states who enact queerphobic legislation, even though we make up the bulk of those suffering from their hands.

Critiques of queerphobia rooted in opposition to Islam aren’t coming from people concerned with queer rights. They’re coming from Islamophobes who have a vested interest in hiding behind the false dichotomy of Islam and liberation in order to shield their own prejudice.

I will be the first to tell you that there are deep-rooted issues in the Muslim community that make it hard for Muslims to be queer, to be women, to be Black, or to be anything other than an upstanding straight brown man.

But the whataboutism that non-Muslims weaponize when we’re advocating for the dignity and livelihoods of Muslims here and abroad does not serve to address these issues.

Whether or not you feel queerness is compatible with Muslimness, there will always be queer Muslims whose voices need amplifying. They will always exist and resist. There is no queer liberation without Muslim liberation—because all systems of oppression are linked. 

When you’re concerned that you will be persecuted in a Muslim state, remember that queer Muslims are as afraid as you are, if not more. Remember that here, in the so-called queer haven that is Canada, we’re still murdered for our Muslimness.

Aysha is a fourth-year Commerce student and one of The Journal’s Editors in Chief.


Muslim, Queer

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