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How I became a PROUD Muslim ally

How I became a PROUD Muslim, LGBTQ+ ally.

June 23, 2022

By, Nermeen Salahuddin, Litigation Executive, Medical Negligence

Historically, religion and the LGBTQ+ community has been at odds with one another. The media shows how a number of Islamic countries are anti-LGBTQ+. However, I believe this to be due to societal and cultural norms rather than religion. Prior to the British invasion, South Asian countries, particularly the Mughal empire, was incredibly diverse. People of different religious beliefs, genders and sexual orientation lived in harmony. At the time there were no written laws against homosexuals, in fact it was very common amongst nobility. The criminalization of homosexuality did not come into force until 1862 by the Indian Penal Code, drawn up by British historian Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay.

As Islam has no governing body, there is no clear stance on the matter. Many Muslims across the world believe that any act that does not harm another human being or you, should not be judged. Furthermore, we believe that only Allah (SWT) is able to judge human beings. The perfect human example that Muslims strive to be like is the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). He led his life celebrating the diversity of Allah’s creation, moreover he led his life accepting those of different backgrounds and was never unkind to anyone who was different to him. This is the example I try to live by.

Growing up, I was always labelled as ‘other’. I was one of 3 Muslims in my school. One of the others was my sister so diversity was not necessarily something I was familiar with. I felt incredibly isolated at my predominantly white catholic school. That was until, I met my childhood best friend; the first person I ever met who was part of the LGBTQ+ community. As soon as we met, she engulfed me in love and support and opened my eyes to the struggles of the community. She taught me to be myself unapologetically and showed me the importance of standing up for myself. She defended me every time I encountered Islamophobia and I like to think that I did the same for her when encountering homophobia.

My whole life, I’ve tried to live as an ally, however it was not until 2016, when I realized I was simply not doing enough. Trump had just been elected as president of the United States and the ‘Muslim ban’ has just been implemented to my disgust and I attended a protest against the ban. Whilst I was there, I got to talking to a few of the other protestors. I was surprised to find that a lot of the people there, were not Muslim themselves. I had never encountered non-Muslims who were there to merely support others. One specific individual told me that they were there as a ‘representative of the LGTBQ+ community’ to support fellow minorities because ‘if I don’t show up for you, how can I ever expect you to show up for me’.

Later that year I made a commitment to go to as many pride parades as possible and take part in any initiatives that go further to advance LGBTQ+ rights. As soon as I stepped foot into Pride Parade I was immediately welcomed with open arms. I found a community that accepted me exactly as I am. My beliefs were never questions and my intentions were always understood. Here I was stood with fellow minorities, downtrodden for centuries, forgotten by history, however in that moment there was nothing but celebration. Celebration of life, celebration of self and celebration of how far we have come.

The word ‘Islam’ means peace and I had never felt more at peace with my fellow human being than with those who allowed me to just be myself and assured me that they would always be there to fight my corner. So here I am now, a PROUD Muslim ally, showing up for the LGBTQ+ community because they’ve always shown up for me.

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