Marriage for Gay Muslims?

What are gay and lesbian Muslims to do when their families pressure them to marry? Find a marriage of convenience.

BY: Ayesha Akram


NEW YORK--On a Web site for gay South Asians, 27-year-old Syed Mansoor uploaded the following message last summer:

"Hi, I am looking for a lesbian girl for marriage. I am gay but I would like to get married because of pressure from parents and society. I would like this marriage to be a `normal' marriage except for the sex part, please don't expect any sexual relationship from me.

" Being an Indian gay person, I believe it is so much worth it to give up sex and have a nice otherwise normal family. We can be good friends and don't have to repent all our life for being gay/lesbian. "

Across the globe and especially in America, hundreds of other gay Muslims have started to pursue marriages of convenience -- or MOC, as they are known -- in which gay Muslims seek out lesbian Muslims, and vice versa, for appearances sake.

Mansoor works as an accountant and is a devout Muslim. He strictly abstains from drinking alcohol or eating pork and is particular about offering early-morning prayers.

To his friends on Wall Street, he is a financial whiz; to his parents, a devoted son. But Mansoor is also part of a burgeoning trend of gay Muslims adopting marriages of convenience.

Hard statistics on the trend are hard to come by, but on a single Web site for South Asian gays and lesbians seeking such marriages, almost 400 requests had been uploaded.

They ranged from a desperate plea from Atlanta -- "I just finished medical school, and the pressure for me to get married is becoming ridiculous. I can't have a conversation with my parents without them pressuring me" -- to a straightforward one from Texas: "I will not object to her having sex with other women."

Mansoor credits the Internet for making these marriages a real possibility for gay Muslims. Gay activists agree, and say that in recent years, they have seen a rise in such marriages among Muslims.

Jack Fertig, a co-coordinator for Al Fatiha, a national advocacy group for gay Muslims, says he comes across at least one such e-mail request every month.

"It's obvious that this is becoming a viable option," he said. "People are seeking, looking and trying to make connections that could develop into such marriages."

Other activists say gay Muslims are resorting to these unions for reasons of self-preservation.

"Marriages of convenience are the result of gay Muslims wanting to avoid emotional and physical harm to themselves," says Muhammed Ali, a board member of Homan, a Los Angeles-based support group for gay Iranians.

Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in much of the Islamic world. In Iran last year, two gay teenagers were publicly executed, while in Afghanistan, the Taliban government would torture homosexuals by collapsing walls on them.

Continued on page 2: There is no concept of marriage in Islam without sexual relations. »

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