AUSTRALIA – An openly gay Imam is hoping to open Australia’s first LGBT-friendly mosque within the next year.
Nur Warsame told The Independent inundated that he had been inundated with cries for help from gay Muslims who feel they have nowhere to turn.
“I have been dealing with young people who have been excommunicated from their families,” he said. “That is when you have a problem.”
People had been “trying to beat the gay out of their loved ones,” he added.
Mr Warsame, who used to lead a mosque in Melbourne, came out as the country’s first openly gay Muslim leader in 2010. He said he was cut off by the Islamic community when he revealed his sexuality.
A dedicated Muslim, who is a Hafiz – someone who knows the Quran off by heart – he added that he used to be married, but refused to continue living a “double life”.
Now the Imam, who no longer attends mosques, said he hopes to transform a building in Melbourne into a safe house and counselling centre for gay Muslims, as well as a place of worship.
This was a matter of “life and death” for some LGBT Muslims, who were left living in fear of violence after coming out as gay, he added.
“I had a problem with people leading a double life, being married as well as being gay or rejecting their spirituality, so I thought I would find a platform somewhere in the middle,” he said.
“The idea is a place to provide healing and address the homelessness, the mental health issues, the self-harm issues, addiction issues,” he added. “This is a plan that I have had for four years and thankfully we will see a tangible outcome soon. We have had some support from the state government but bureaucracy and intentions are never the same. But I am optimistic, I hope to have it achieved this year.”
Mr Warsame, who has been an Imam since 2001 said this was a worldwide issue that reached beyond Australia.
“I have had several people contact me from London who have issues reconciling their sexuality with their spirituality,” he said. “This is happening on a very large scale.”
He felt the root of the problem came from certain old religious texts that presented homosexuality as a sin.
“You are talking about an ideology that believes your repentance is to be killed,” he said in a separate interview with Australian broadcaster, ABC News.
He said safe, affordable housing was one of the key needs for many gay Muslims and recalled how he once had seven people staying in his one bedroom apartment as they had nowhere else to go.
“I have been dealing with an avalanche of misery on a global scale,” he told the Australian news channel.
Sydney Queer Muslims have welcomed Imam Nur’s plans. The group’s president Nurul Huda has said some of the group’s members who were devoutly religious, had experienced violence at the hands of those closest to them, while others were ostracised from their communities.
The proposed mosque would be close to a number of useful services, such as medical facilities for LGBT people and a police station. Imam Nur, who is looking to secure funding for the plans, hopes one day to also carry out gay Muslim marriages at the centre.
Source: The Independent