Muslim American Support for LGBT Rights is Growing


WASHINGTON D.C., United States -  Prominent Muslim Americans have been actively speaking up in support of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states last month, but not without controversy.

Author Reza Aslan and "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj discussed on Huffington Post Live the open letter they penned to fellow Muslim Americans about the Supreme Court’s ruling. Their letter outlined how the LGBT and Muslim communities have increasingly found themselves to have much in common, in an atmosphere that has tried to restrict both group’s civil rights.

"Christians can always give the Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush stance, which is, 'Well, I really disagree with this and I think [same-sex marriage is] awful and a sin, but it's the law so we have to go with it,'" Aslan said on Huffington Post Live. "Muslims who represent a heavily marginalized 1 percent -- a very negatively viewed 1 percent -- have to approach these issues in a completely different light because … they can be tagged with being un-American, in way that Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush or Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee could never be tagged."

Minhaj added that as part of a minority group in the United States, Muslims have the responsibility to advocate for the rights of all other marginalized people because Muslims need support against discrimination, just like the LGBT community.

Other outspoken Muslim Americans have voiced similar rhetoric. Omid Safi, professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said religious convictions should never stand in the way of someone else's liberty.

“I have not forgotten that existing interpretations of Shari’a so far prohibit same-sex activity. Fine, that’s our business, our own internal religious conversation,” Safi writes in a column for Religion News Service. “But we are here talking about the state recognizing a marriage, not a state dictating to religious traditions what they should or should not teach.”

However, many in the Muslim American community disagree with this outspoken support and lashed out on social media.

But this backlash should come at no surprise. In 2011 the Pew Research Center found that only 39% of Muslim Americans believed that homosexuality should be “accepted” by society. Still, there have been signs of change. In 2007, the center found that Muslim Americans -- 61% to 27% believed that homosexuality should be “discouraged."

This growing shift toward acceptance of homosexuality may be catalyzed in part by the visible support for LGBT rights from prominent members within the Muslim American community.

But this outspoken support is not new. In 2013, the largest U.S. based Muslim organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), joined a broad interfaith coalition in the fight to bring the Employment and Discrimination Act (ENDA) to fruition. The group called it a “measured, common sense solution that will ensure workers are judged on their merits, not on their personal characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Although disagreement on LGBT rights still exists within the Muslim American community, it is clear that the amount of Muslim Americans supporting LGBT rights is steadily growing.

LINKEDIN: Austin Bryan