'Homosexual acts' in Morocco man Ray Cole charges dropped

A British man, jailed for "homosexual acts" in Morocco, has spoken of his relief now the charges against him have finally been dropped.
Ray Cole
Ray Cole, from Deal, in Kent, was held in Marrakesh with a 20-year-old friend he was visiting after "homesexual images" were found on his phone.
The 70 year old was freed after 20 days in a jail he described as being like a "concentration camp".
The British Consulate said neither Mr Cole nor his friend would face charges.
Mr Cole was visiting Jamal Jam Wald Nass, a friend he met online, when the pair was stopped by police.
He told the BBC he was aware homosexuality was a crime in Moroccobut believed authorities turned a blind eye if relationships were not flaunted.
'Always discreet'
His detention in September triggered an online campaign for his release, which finally happened on 7 October.
Mr Cole told BBC News: "I'm really relieved. There's no more to worry about, no more legal hurdles to cross."
The MP for Dover and Deal, Charlie Elphicke, who was involved in the campaign to release Mr Cole, said: "There was no reason for them to be arrested because they were always discreet and they did nothing in public."
On his return to England last month, Mr Cole said conditions at the prison in Marrakesh were horrendous and that he had slept on the floor.
"I've seen things I never knew existed. It's not a prison, it's a concentration camp," he said.
BBC

Saudi Arabia: Homosexual man jailed for 'immoral acts'

Manama: A court in eastern Saudi Arabia has sentenced a homosexual man to three years in jail for engaging in “immoral acts”.

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The man, in his 30s, was also ordered to pay a SR100,000 fine by the court in the port city Dammam in the Eastern Province.
According to a report in local news site Sabq, the man was apprehended by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice after he posted pictures of himself naked on social media and offered to have sex for free with other men. “Offensive” pictures and chats with other people were found on his confiscated mobile, Sabq said on Tuesday.
Homosexuality and cross-dressing are social and legal offences in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. Last month, police in Kuwait arrested 23 cross-dressers and homosexuals after they busted a “wild party” held at a chalet in the south of the country.
Lawmakers, wary of the growing number of gays in the country, have been pushing for a crackdown, including the adoption of tougher immigration measures against expatriate homosexuals and their prompt deportation.
Last year, a suggestion by a health official carried by a local daily to bar homosexual and transgender foreigners from working in the GCC raised a storm that eventually subdued for not reflecting an official policy.

Source: Gulf News

Gay people will be treated 'like beer' at Qatar World Cup

Qatar's sports minister promises 'creative solutions', but can he guarantee safety?
Will gay people be safe in Qatar?
Gay people will be treated similar to beer at the Qatar World Cup in 2022.
Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali, the country's sports minister, compared gay fans and footballers who wanted to travel to the soccer tournament.
Alcohol is partially banned in the Arabic country, but is sometimes punished with flogging. Both male and female homosexuality is punishable with flogging and imprisonment of up to five years.
Al-Ali, when asked by the Associated Press, said the country will find 'creative' ways that beer could be sold.
But when asked how gay people will be welcomed, he said: 'It's exactly like the alcohol question."
He said Qatar doesn't want to create 'this impression, illusion that we don't care about our tradition and our ethical values ... We are studying all these issues.
'We can adapt, we can be creative to have people coming and enjoying the games without losing the essence of our culture and respecting the preference of the people coming here. I think there is a lot we can do.'
The sports minister added: 'I think we can be creative, finding solutions for all of this. But we respect all the rules and regulations.'
FIFA has been met witha huge amount of controversy for choosing Qatar as a host nation. When head of FIFA Sepp Blatter was asked about a possible solution in 2010, he said gay people could avoid trouble by not having sex in Qatar. 
Richard de Mos, a member of Dutch parliament, has proposed the Dutch football team play in pink instead of the country's normal colors, orange, to protest the gay rights situation.
Qatar in 2022 will be preceeded by the next World Cup in Russia in 2018, another country not exactly known for its embracing of LGBTI people.

LGBT Muslims in UK: Young, Gay, British and Muslim




This year's Pride in London. Image courtesy of the author


For years, Maryam found herself waking up in a cold sweat at night with one thought going through her mind: How on earth was she going to make her sexuality work with her religion and culture?


"For a long time, I was split in two parts: one Muslim, one lesbian. They were at such odds with one another that I fell into depression," says Maryam, a 22-year-old trainee lawyer from Nottingham, focusing on human rights and justice. "I felt like I was losing my connection with God and it scared me."


Can Islam and homosexuality ever co-exist? In 2014, it might be starting to look that way. Long believing that she had to pick between her sexuality and faith, Maryam is now part of an increasing number of LGBTQ Muslims that are subscribing to the belief that you can be both Muslim and gay.


"My journey of reconciling my faith, sexuality and culture has been beautiful in its diversity, but it's also been trying. I've considered suicide," she says. "It took me a long time to get to the point when I finally realised that I can be both Muslim and queer, but now love who I am."


Maryam


Most of the 11 self-identifying LGBTQ Muslims I interviewed for this piece are like Maryam: confident that they are able to reconcile their faith and sexuality and increasingly opting to live their lives openly in a community where it is assumed that religion and homosexuality cannot co-exist.


While sex is still a taboo subject generally in many British Muslim communities, there are five references in the Qur'an stating that homosexuality is forbidden in Islam. Many also cite the basis of the Qur'anic story of ​Lut to condemn homosexual behaviour.


But while many no longer feel that they have to choose whether to be either Muslim or gay, there still remains the problem of visibility within the LGBTQ Muslim community. I ask Maryam whether she considers herself an anomaly as a visibly queer Muslim. "No, I don't. You wouldn't think it, but in the UK there are thousands of us."


She's may not wrong. Now, this is some pretty intense extrapolation, but 2013 statistics showed that ​one out of every 100 people in Britain identify themselves as gay or lesbian. And with just over 5 percent of the UK being Muslims, that might mean there are 32,000 gay or lesbian Muslims living in Britain.


So where are they? They may congregate in outreach groups, but not many can claim to have seen openly "out" Muslims in mainstream society. It's little wonder when you consider that the relationship between Islam and the LGBTQ Muslim community has long been problematic. According to a 2009 Gallup poll, Muslims in Britain still have ​zero tolerance towards homosexual acts.


Muslims at an LGBT parade. Image ​via Wikimedia Commons​


In March this year, Dr Mohammad Naseem, the chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque, came under fire for suggesting that gay men and women are comparable to murderers and paedophiles. He ​stated in an interview on Channel 4 News that "it's not possible to be both gay and a Muslim. You can choose your way of life but you don't have to be a Muslim."


Many growing up in an Asian household can remember the East is East scene when the eldest son, Nazir, felt forced to leave his family and community to live as an openly gay man. But for many gay Muslim male subjects I interviewed, this is now seen as a more archaic view. They are not prepared to subscribe to this idea that they have to leave their family to live the life that they want.


Faisal, a 25-year-old accountant from Uxbridge, says he "used to struggle a lot, although now I accept that I was born this way. My parents are aware of my sexuality and although we don't talk about my lifestyle, they haven't condemned me." He comments on how unfortunate it is that so many LGBT Muslim men and women are "forced to get married against their will by their families", saying, "there is simply no justice infrastructure in place".


But while it may seem that coming out and living your life openly is the biggest hurdle to overcome for British Muslims, Claire, a 28-year-old Birmingham-based Muslim convert, says it's only the beginning of the struggle. "As an LGBT Muslim, I face discrimination in the gay community. They say I cannot be gay and Muslim but I can. No one can judge you for who you are – you decide that."


Claire also observes this hostility within the Muslim community. Recently engaged to her partner, she says she does not attend the mosque as she is constantly told by male worshipers that they are "better for her" than her partner. "What we want as LGBT Muslims and women is to be treated like humans," she says. "We want to have the same rights to go to the mosque to pray and learn and to be a part of the Muslim community."


Scripture interpretation continues to be a divisive subject. This is the view taken by many of the male subjects I've interviewed, including Omar, an activist and charity campaigner from Bromley. He says that, although there are references to homosexual behaviour, he believes it is contextual for the era in which it was written and that "there is nowhere in the Qur'an that forbids homosexuality".


"It is up to only Allah – not mortal mankind – to judge me, and as Allah is forgiving I have nothing to worry about"


Who does he think is at fault, then, when he is condemned for being both Muslim and gay? "It could be the fault of the hadiths that contradict the Qur'an, the fault of the literalists, or the people who claim themselves as Muslims but their actions are not. They misinterpret the Qur'an to indoctrinate people to believe that it is wrong."


How does he cope with accusations that he's picking and choosing his religion as he pleases? "The way I see it is that Allah made me," he says. "It is not Allah that rejects us, it's those in the Islamic community. I am quite happy to openly say I am a gay Muslim man and, as far as I can interpret, it's not a sin. If I have got it wrong it is up to only Allah – not mortal mankind – to judge me, and as Allah is forgiving I have nothing to worry about."


Can we be optimistic that it will one day be widely acceptable to be Muslim and gay? While it remains to be seen whether Muslim communities will ever be able to reconcile homosexuality and religion, it's clear that the LGBTQ Muslim community are no longer prepared to stay silent. ​The Safra Project, a support group set up in 2011 working with Muslim women identifying as LGBT, is, in fact, set to have Britain's first female lesbian imam.


Claire says that people often ask her how she has the confidence to be a vocal queer Muslim woman. "How can I not? You can't control who you are attracted to any more than you can choose your eye colour," she says. "And even though it's a little isolating at times, given other people's belief systems, I wouldn't change it for the world."


​@layla_haidrani


Source: Vice

Talk by Haneen Maikey on November 12th at San Francisco State University

The Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) at San Francisco State University presents:

A lecture by Haneen Maikey
Co-founder & executive director - AlQaws for Gender & Sexual Diversity in Palestinian Society

 Interview with Haneen Maikey

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 (2:30 - 4:30 pm)
SFSU’s Library Events Room LIB 121

Co-sponsored by: The Department of Sociology, the Department of Sexuality Studies, the Department of women and Gender Studies, and the SAFE Place at San Francisco State University and the Center for Race and Gender, The Gender and Women Studies Program, and the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program at University of California at Berkeley.

For more info, call (415) 405-2668 or email amedstaf@sfsu.edu

5 Queer Magazines in the Islamic World

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If you are queer and Muslim, you probably know about some of these publications. Some have been around for over 20 years, others are so new you can only get them via phone orders. But what do they all have in common? They serve the LGBT community in Muslim-majority countries.
These magazines are more than just being magazines; they are not all about the shallow things you may find in general magazines. As you will see, sometimes they are the only voice a community has. Other times, they are part of a larger network to affect change.

ALGERIA: Abu Nawas
So named for the well-known gay poet, Abu Nawas was recently started by Abu Nawas Algérie. Abu Nawas Algérie is an organization that has met all the criteria for an NGO (non-governmental organization), yet they are not approved. Why? Because their subject matter is illegal in Algeria. However, that did not stop them from moving forward. Along with Radio Alouen and the portal Gay Algérie, Abu Nawas Algérie has been doing the “TenTen” campaign, which celebrates the birthday of an openly gay Sultan from the Ottoman Empire by asking the community to light a candle on each October 10th at 10pm. They just celebrated their 7th annual “TenTen” on October 10th, 2014.
JORDAN: My.Kali
They say “kill two birds with one stone,” and that is basically how My.Kali works. It works in a cool dual system. They publish bi-monthly magazine, but are also always available on the website. They publish local pop culture, and cover international musings. They… you get it. Since 2007, the magazine has been pushing the envelope in a country caught between the old and the new, between the traditional and the modern. What is the secret to its success? Not being afraid to being bold. Recently, they featured Amir Ashour and his passionate defense of gays and God, “So what he’s gay? Can’t gay people believe in God? A God who’s supposed to stand for peace and love; a God who is thought to be the creator of everyone including that gay person and could change him if he wanted to,” from his speech at the One Young World conference.
BANGLADESH: Roopbaan
This magazine is so brand new you would have to call its editor to buy it. No, really. it’s that new. Roopbaan is Bangladesh’s first LGBT magazine. They get their name from a local folktale. The invite-only launch party in Dhaka included local celebrities and politicians like Robert Gibson, who’s the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh. What is the point of this magazine? To spread love, says its editor. “We hope it’ll raise awareness about the community and will lead to wider social tolerance of the gays and lesbians here,” the 25-year-old Rasel Ahmed told Agence France-Presse. If you want a copy, contact them on their Facebook page.
TURKEY: Kaos GL
Since 1994, Kaos GL has been published by the Turkish LGBT organization of the same name. It’s based in Ankara. It has never shied away from provocative subjects like religion, sexuality, and politics. In their very first issue in September of 1994, for example, they discussed how homosexuality could intersect with socialism and anarchism! They raised a few eyebrows in 1998 when they put nude men on the cover of their January issue. They have covered local and international topics, and have had success in getting mainstream people to come onboard and support. Because it’s connected to an existing, and rather successful, organization, Kaos GL never had to worry so much about advertisers the same way stand-alone magazines have to. As such, their content is very rich and often leaves you hoping more magazines would be like theirs.
KOSOVO: Q-Magazine
What does the Q in Q-Magazine stand for? If you thought queer, then the editors of the magazine have been successful. Qesh Kosovo, an organization that seeks to harmonies LGBT rights with this small Muslim-majority country, publishes the magazine. It’s a very clever magazine that integrates a global LGBT viewpoint with a local audience. What is so cool about them? They publish in bilingual (English and Albanian). So when they interview someone like Jodi Foster, her story also benefits those in the region who may not have magazines. With aid from international bodies like the United States, they don’t have to worry about advertisement either.
Afdhere Jama is the author of  Queer Jihad: LGBT Muslims on Coming Out, Activism, and the FaithHe lives in the United States.

Morocco: ALCS launches 8th Annual National Testing Day Event for AIDS

Morocco: ALCS Launches 8th Annual National Testing Day Event for AIDS
Marrakech – The Moroccan Association for the Fight Against AIDS (Association Marocaine de Lutte contre le Sida, or ALCS), one of Morocco’s leading NGOs addressing HIV/AIDS, opened its 8th Annual National Testing Day event for AIDS on Nov. 3, which runs through World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
31,000 people in Morocco are infected with AIDS each year, and the majority of them are unaware of it, according to an ACLS news release.
60 percent of patients have no access to treatment until they reach an advanced stage of the disease.
All of the studies and public health guidance to date show that early treatment and regular monitoring of the AIDS infection weakens the virus and makes it non-transmittable to others.
During National Day event, ALCS is targeting 38,500 testing sessions in 40 Moroccan cities and villages. The event will be covered by 50 volunteer doctors, and about 200 assistants belonging to the association.
For more details check the association website: www.alcs.ma/?CIDAG