Why Britain's gay, lesbian and bisexual Muslims need dedicated support groups

Scarcity of support groups for Britain's gay, lesbian and other non-heterosexual Muslims is highlighted in a new report sponsored by the ESRC which gives unique insight into the religious and social pressures on their lives.

Help groups offer a safe environment to explore the thorny issue of Islam and non-heterosexuality (particularly homosexuality) which the wider gay and lesbian community rarely provides, says Dr. Andrew Yip of the Nottingham Trent University.

Current efforts to provide support groups are embryonic and in great need of encouragement.

In the first study of its kind into the lives of British gay, lesbian and bisexual Muslims of Asian descent, most of those questioned were young, highly educated, in full-time employment and living in Greater London.

Dr. Yip found that how they managed their identities and lifestyles was very much influenced and shaped by their religious and cultural background, family and friends.

Religious censure of homosexuality pressurises many to compartmentalise their sexuality and religion.

Being gay is widely perceived within their community as a 'western disease' and a natural outcome of secularity, individualism and permissiveness, they told the research team.

To express their sexuality was not merely to defile their own moral character but the religious and cultural purity of the entire community.

Whilst some did not consider themselves practising Muslims, most accepted the importance of Islam in their lives. The women in particular recognised the significance of the 'Muslim' label as members of a religious and ethnic minority in British society.

Some Muslims gave in to the perceived incompatibility of their religion with their sexual orientation by ending the practice of their faith. Others managed to hold on to their religion by underplaying it.

Almost all argued that their sexuality was intrinsic and God-created. Trusting that God is com

Contact: Anna Hinds
Economic & Social Research Council

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