Montreal

Gay Muslims struggle under weight of 2 stigmas

Following the Orlando shooting, Montreal’s gay and lesbian Muslims are searching for a way to confront the fundamentalist Islam which has led to homophobia in their community.

People who identify as Muslim and gay have a double battle to fight, according to local filmmaker Arshad Khan

Comedian Eman El-Husseini, left, and filmmaker Arshad Khan, right, told similar stories of how hard it was to tell their families about their sexuality. (Google and Rebecca Ugolini/CBC)

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, Montreal's gay and lesbian Muslims are searching for a way to confront the fundamentalist Islam which has led to homophobia in their community.

The attack that killed 49 people has led to discussion within the Muslim community as to how some interpretations of the Koran have sought to reinforce homophobia.  

The shooter's father said that it is "up to God to punish homosexuals."

CBC Montreal's Daybreak spoke with two Muslims who are part of the LGBT community. They both shared similar stories about the stigma surrounding homosexuality in Muslim circles.

Daybreak speaks to Montreal film-maker Arshad Khan and comedian Eman El-Husseini on how people who identify as part of the Muslim and LGBTQ communities on the Orlando shooting at the Pulse night club. 10:25

"I didn't come out as gay until I met my wife," Palestinian-Muslim Eman El-Husseini said about telling her family she was a lesbian.

"They didn't disown me, they weren't violent with me. I'm lucky."

Montreal-based filmmaker Arshad Khan is making a documentary, Abu, about coming out to his fundamentalist Muslim father.

"My parents weren't violent or nasty but there was a lot of mental anguish," Khan said.

Khan said Muslim society has historically been open to homosexuality but today's religious leaders are very misogynistic and right-wing.

Homophobia, Islamophobia and guns

"I'm from Pakistan. It's OK to marry a 12-year-old girl but it's not OK to have consensual same-sex love anymore. It's ridiculous," Khan said.

He added that the Orlando shooting is serving to increase Islamophobia.

Both Khan and El-Husseini agree that as people wrestle with homophobia and Islamophobia, guns are what really deserve the blame.

"But I think Muslims should be a bit more conscious of homosexuality," Khan added. 

with files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak

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