Wave of Homophobia Sweeps the Muslim World
In most Islamic countries, gay men and women are ostracized, persecuted and in some cases even murdered. Repressive regimes are often fanning the flames of hatred in a bid to outdo Islamists when it comes to spreading “moral panic.”
More than 30 Islamic countries have laws on the books that prohibit homosexuality and make it a criminal offense. In most cases punishment ranges from floggings to life imprisonment. In Mauritania, Bangladesh, Yemen, parts of Nigeria and Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Iran convicted homosexuals can also be sentenced to death.
In those Muslim countries where homosexuality is not against the law gay men and women are nonetheless persecuted, arrested, and in some cases murdered.
It looks as if a wave of homophobia has swept over the Islamic world, a place that was once widely known for its openmindedness, where homoerotic literature was written and widely read, where gender roles were not so narrowly defined, and, as in the days of ancient Greece, where men often sought the companionship of youths.
More than anything, it is the politicization of Islam that has led to the persecution of gays today. Sexual morals are no longer a private matter. They are regulated and instrumentalized by governments.
“The most repressive are secular regimes such as those in Egypt or Morocco which are under pressure from Islamists and so try to outdo them with regard to morals,” says Scott Long of Human Rights Watch. “In addition the persecution of homosexuals shows that a regime has control over the private lives of its citizens — a sign of power and authority.” For several years now a sense of “moral panic” has been systematically fomented in many Muslim countries.
Related at Der Spiegel:
‘A Jihad for Love’ Gives Voice to Gay Muslims: The documentary “A Jihad for Love” explores the lives of devout Muslims around the world who are also gay. Director Parvez Sharma speaks to SPIEGEL ONLINE about the dangers of filming in some Muslim countries and why the bitterest battles gay people face are on the front lines of religion.
Sex and Taboos in the Islamic World: Sex is a taboo in conservative Islamic countries. Young, unmarried couples are forced to seek out secret erotic oases. Books and play that are devoted to the all too human topic of sex incur the wrath of conservative religious officials and are promptly banned.