Gay imam: 'Islam is an inherently inclusive religion"

While the Orlando shootings intensified debates about the relationship between Islam and the LGBT community, many came forward to remind us that the two worlds not only overlap, but can also co-exist peacefully. Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, a gay imam based in Paris, gave a powerful interview with Fusion to discuss how the Islam finds its place in LGBT life, and vice versa. Speaking of the Qur'an's message on homosexuality, Zahed said "there’s more than 70 verses in the Qur’an speaking about homosexuality, but it’s always about rape. Sodomites were identified as rapists. There’s nowhere in the Qur’an that says you have to kill gay people. "Yes, it says that Sodom and Gomorra have been destroyed by God and razed by angels to the ground, but it doesn’t say that you have to kill gays. It’s an interpretation of an interpretation".

He continued to discuss Islam's tradition of welcoming LGBT people: "Islam has had a tradition of accepting homosexuality. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was welcoming in his home of people we would today call homosexuals. It’s politics, fascism that replaced that. It’s the patriarchy dressed up as Islam.

"This is our fault, our responsibility. We have to take our destiny in charge. There’s a lot of ignorance of our own heritage".

He also spoke of trying to come to terms with his spirituality and sexuality in his 20s which at the time he believed could not coexist. He described trying to choose between the two as "like having to choose to cut off part of my body". CmwwnAUVYAAwPIQ   In France, Zahed has also faced opposition to his work by non-Muslims and even some elements of the LGBT community. "There’s so much racism and secularism, LGBT organisations have told us ‘We don’t want to work with you.’ They say, ‘Even though you’re gay, because you’re Muslim we don’t trust you.’ "There’s also a problem of homo-nationalism, in terms of, people say, ‘If you want to be truly European, you have to be gay friendly. And you Muslims are less gay-friendly than others.’ "That can be used to discriminate against Muslims, even though homophobia can be found everywhere. Women and LGBT individuals are at the forefront of debates about reforming Islam, we have the best tools to do that". Read the full interview here. More stories: What have we learnt form Orlando? Attitude pays tribute in new August issue ‘Coming out to my wife was hard, but coming out to my family was another level entirely’