News (World)

Australia’s first openly gay Imam talks Islamophobia and homophobia

Nur Warsame, Australia’s first openly gay Muslim imam spoke to The Project’s Waleed Aly recently, where the spiritual leader opened up about the challenges that comes with reconciling his sexual and religious identities:

“It’s disgusting, because you suffer from Islamophobia, from both the mainstream non-Muslim community and some in the LGBT community.”

Risks from coming out in the Muslim community, he says, “are great” as “you will be excommunicated, you will be ostracised, you risk losing even your life, at times, in different parts of the world.” As an imam, Warsame leads a group for LGBT Muslims and has been very outspoken about his own difficulties in coming out.

“I chose to use my story to try and make a difference,” he says, as he recounts living a double life and his suicide attempt. Prior to coming out, Warsame had a wife and one child.

The religious leader became the first imam in his country to come out in May of this year. Warsame emphasizes how urgent these conflicts are, and the necessity for legislation. On the Orlando shooting, the imam calls it “a horrendous example of how suppression can lead to violence” and the destructive cycle of fear.

Still, he says he’s optimistic that people are moving forward from what he calls archaic and outdated beliefs. Warsame comments that it’s promising to see activists in different parts of the world address these issues, saying, “I believe that we have a great opportunity now to address it on a religious level, a cultural level, a social level.”

The Project suggests struggling LGBTQ Muslims reach out to the social group Marhaba. In the United States, the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity provides support for LGBTQ Muslims.

The full segment has been met with a strong amount of positive responses. You can watch the interview here:

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