The Qatar World Cup has once again put the focus on one of the most controversial issues surrounding this and other Islamic countries: the repression against people from the LGBT+ community.
In Qatar, for example, having sexual relations with people of the same sex can carry a penalty of up to 7 years in jail. And it’s not the toughest country.
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Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan or Yemen -among other Islamic countries- contemplate the death penalty as punishment for these acts.
It can be affirmed that repression against gays and lesbians is greater today in the Islamic world than in societies with Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian or Jewish traditions.
Its spiritual leaders, from the Iranian ayatollahs to the Saudi Grand Mufti, consider homosexuality a crime that contravenes the norms of Islam and must be punished harshly.
But is this what the Koran and other texts that support the Muslim religion affirm?
First, it must be clarified that “the Koran is not an exhaustive book of laws, but a set of texts that lends itself to interpretation,” the Spanish Susana Mangana, director of the Islam and Arab world chair at the University, explains to BBC Mundo. Catholic University of Uruguay.
In fact, in the holy book of Muslims we only find clear references to same-sex relationships in a specific episode.
It is about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a story similar to the one told in the Old Testament of the Bible.
When the prophet lot he receives two messengers sent by Allah, the sodomites ask him to have sex with them. He answers them:
“Do you commit an atrocity that no creature has committed before? Indeed, out of concupiscence, you reach out to men instead of women. Yes, you are an immoderate people!”
From this chapter starring Lot the term was born lutiwith which homosexuals are called in Arabic.
Despite this and other allusions in the same episode, the Koran “is ambiguous, it does not speak directly about homosexuality or the punishment that homosexuals must suffer,” according to Mangana.
“If the issue of homosexuality had been clearly dealt with by the Koran, there would be no debate, because if it is in the quran it cannot be denied. A Muslim cannot go against his own sacred book,” says the Spanish academic.
In any case, the Koran, which for believers contains the divine message of Allah, is the main source of Islam, but not the only one.
there is also the sunnawhich is a set of texts or hadiths, as the sayings or deeds of Muhammad of traditional transmission are called, as well as the iyma (community consensus) and the qiyas (analogue interpretation of sacred teachings).
From all of them derives the fiqhwhich is the jurisprudence created from the first two sources by applying islamic law or sharia.
“In the sunnathe second source of Islamic law, homosexuality is compared to adultery. It is a crime called hadd and a death sentence is usually attributed to him, in the most serious of cases, or whipping,” the Italian writer and historian Gerardo Ferrara, one of the leading European experts on the Middle East and Islam, told BBC Mundo.
In some hadiths of the sunnaIn fact, it does refer more directly to sexual relations between two men.
“If a man who is not married is caught committing sodomy, will be stoned to death“, collects one of these writings in the Sunan Abu Dawoodone of the six books of the Kutub al-Sittahthe six major hadith collections of Sunni Islam.
However, in the Islamic world there is a permanent debate about the veracity of the sacred texts, and some experts say that the hadiths that prescribe severe punishments against homosexuality they are not authentic.
For example, Mohamed el Moctar el Shinqiti, director of the Islamic Center of South Plains, Texas, maintains that “there are no authentic hadiths from the Prophet pointing to punishment for homosexuals” nor is there any information that Muhammad punished someone for having relations with another person of the same sex.
In any case, one cannot speak of a unitary position of Islam, which, like other religions, encompasses many different branches and creeds, with ultra-conservative visions such as those of Wahhabism or the Salafisand other more liberal ones such as those prevailing in some European and East Asian Muslim countries.
“When we get entangled in the sacred texts there will always be a jurist who interprets it in one way: whoever wants to ban homosexuality will seek the most severe interpretation, and whoever wants to defend LGBT+ rights in the Muslim world will try refute that,” says Susana Mangana.
Other Islamic holy texts, interestingly, allude to sexual desire between two men.
“There are poets, scientists and theologians of Islam who say that the man who has no sexual desire towards adolescents is not a man,” says Ferrara.
And it indicates that, in another of the hadiths of the sunna“Muhammad himself recommends a man not to let himself be carried away by desires towards another man, which are possible especially if the other man is young, and he focuses on a woman.”
From the Qur’an and hadith, along with input from Islamic scholars and community consensus, it is derived shariawhich literally means “trodden path” or “path that leads to the source”.
“By extension is understood as the path that leads to peacewell in Arabic ‘peace’, which is salamand ‘submission’, which is Islamhave the same root, that is, that you can live in peace if you are willing to submit to this law,” explains the academic.
Sharia is the code that governs all aspects of life of a Muslim: how he should live and behave, as well as the sins he should not commit, their seriousness and how they should be punished.
Most Muslim countries incorporate some aspects of Sharia into their laws (for example, almost all of them punish apostasy with imprisonment or the death penalty) and others, fewer, they apply it almost to the letter in their courts, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.
And how to legislate homosexuality, according to the sharia?
“Even in the sharia it is not said that homosexuality is adultery, but by extension it has been interpreted that having a homosexual relationship outside of marriage is a crime and, therefore, any homosexual act is a crime,” says Ferrara.
And it is not a minor crime: adultery or zina, considered a haddis punishable by penalties ranging from lashes or lashes to death by stoning, depending on the seriousness of the act.
This plays against LGBT+ people: if the adultery consists of a homosexual relationship, judges in the most radical Islamic countries will tend to consider it more serious since apply the most severe penalties, including death.
To hand down the death sentence to a person who has had illicit sexual relations, the sharia requires the arguments of four male or eight female witnesses.
“It is frequent in Iran or Saudi Arabia that groups of police infiltrate homes where a homosexual act is believed to be taking place to testify and thus send those involved to death”, explains the Italian academic.
“If the man is married, he is more guilty and must be killed. If he is not married, he can be flogged or put in jail.”
But in countries where the sharia is applied more severely, such as Iran or Saudi Arabia, “the majority of people who are sent to death are not married and, in many cases, they are young boys,” he says.
The Italian expert also points out that, in the past, homosexuality it was something relatively tolerated in Muslim societies.
“There has always been a very high percentage of homosexual relations, as well as with minors, in Islam. Anthropologically it can be attributed to the fact that since there is a very strict separation between man and woman It’s easier to vent your desires with another man.”
The Spanish academic, for her part, points out that the hostility of a large part of the Islamic world towards people with diverse sexual orientations is something relatively recent.
“The Islam tolerated homosexuality until the 20th century when, as a rejection of what they consider to be the corrupted morality of Western society, they began to speak out much more against it”.
I am Jack Morton and I work in 24 News Recorder. I mostly cover world news and I have also authored 24 news recorder. I find this work highly interesting and it allows me to keep up with current events happening around the world.