One MacEwan University professor is speaking out against what he says is "silence" in the Muslim community on LGBTQ issues.

Junaid Jahangir, a professor in the department of economics, says some are not open to discussing important topics such as same-sex marriage. That's why he helped organize what he says is the first-ever conference on Islam and LGBTQ Muslims in Edmonton.

The event started Friday and features several international panelists.  

According to Jahangir, a handful of prominent Muslim organizations were invited this weekend but many did not attend Saturday's panels and did not respond to the invite.

Although Jahangir, who is Muslim, was disappointed more community members weren't represented, he still continues to push for broader discussions on important issues for the LGBTQ community.


Junaid Jahangir helped organize the first-ever LGBTQ Muslims Conference held at MacEwan University on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.

"We will not allow these freezing silences to hinder us from our work," said Jahangir, who is gay. He writes widely on issues involving LGBTQ Muslims and advocates against their marginalization.

Panelists at this weekend's conference were given the opportunity to discuss topics such as LGBTQ issues and the faith. Imam Daayiee Abdullah from Washington, DC was one of the speakers and says many need to overcome their fears in order to welcome and appreciate everyone and their differences. 

"Once people are able to step back and say 'I do not fear you,' that changes the whole milieu," he said.

The event runs until Sunday afternoon at MacEwan University.