Islamic Conference Vows To Queer The Air

Muslim Man Pushes HIV Group On Gay Inclusion

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Suhail AbualSameed’s big balls ushered in big changes at the International Consultation on Islam and HIV/AIDS’ conference in Johannesburg.

AbualSameed – a Jordanian living in Canada – stood among academic, political and social leaders and came out to blast their homophobia approaches to AIDS prevention:

As a gay Muslim, I feel unsafe, unloved and unrespected in this space. Were I to become HIV-positive, the first thing I would lose is my Muslim community. I couldn’t come to you guys for support. I wish you did not refer to gays with the (Arabic) words ‘shaz’ and ‘luti’ – perverts and rapists – because we are not.

Though some participants attempted to silence AbualSameed, the conference chairman allowed him to continue. When he finished his speech, AbualSameed says a number of clerics personally apologized if they had said something offensive, if they had made me feel unloved or unsafe.”

Obviously there has been an institutional shift over the last few years, but no one – not even AbualSameed – had predicted that the International Consultation would later release a statement promising to create a more queer friendly enviorenment. They did point out, however, that they still think homosexuality’s a sin.

Regardless of caveats, AbualSameed says this represents major progress: This first time ever that a high-level religious forum has talked, acknowledged and accepted gays… [This will] help other gay Muslims to come out in a safer space.”