Marriage for Gay Muslims?

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

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.



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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.



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