Openly gay Imam planning 'spiritual safe place' for LGBTQI Muslims

The religious leader believes LGBTQI Muslims are being forced to choose between their spirituality and their sexuality.

An openly gay Imam is on a mission to build a space where Australian LGBTQI Muslims can worship freely.

Nur Warsame has been fundraising for what he calls a "spiritual safe place" which will include a mosque, a safe house, and counselling centre.

Mr Warsame told SBS News that he was motivated to do so after seeing fellow LGBTQI Muslims being "kicked out of mosques… just because they don't look a particular way."

He said many LGBTQI Muslims in Australia are being "forced to choose between their spirituality and their sexuality."

"These two things are the foundation of a person's being. To say you need to choose one or the other is nonsensical."

He said the centre would have a "healing effect" and provide a "sense of belonging" to many LGBTQI Muslims.

Mr Warsame has already been holding underground meetups with young closeted LGBTQI Muslims for several years.

Nur Warsame is considered to be the first openly gay Imam in Australia.
Source: The Feed

Before coming out, Mr Warsame said he was married with a daughter and led one of one of Melbourne's largest mosques. But since doing so, he claims many in the Muslim community have ostracised him.

He came out more publicly to the wider Australian community on an episode of SBS's The Feed in 2016.

"It's difficult for people in the Muslim world (to come out) because the losses are too high, the risks are too great," he told The Feed.

"The conservative school of thought in Islam to counter homosexuality is to be killed. That's your repentance."

But Mr Warsame said that there were signs of hope within the Australian Muslim community. He's convinced that his religion is slowly going through a process that he says other religions and communities in Australia began "20-30 years ago."

"I'm proud to see educated, enlightened LGBTI individuals pave a journey for themselves and others. There is hope."

Coordinator of Muslims for Marriage Equality Fahad Ali told SBS News that the idea of a space where LGBTQI Muslims can worship freely has been desired in the community for some time.

Mr Ali said that very often LGBTQI Muslims "don't feel comfortable going into spaces like mosques or broader social events within the Muslim community."

"They feel like they have to live double lives."

Mr Ali said at best there was a "don't ask, don't tell" attitude, even within family units.

He said he hoped for a day when LGBTQI Muslims could "stand in a mosque and worship without having to worry about what the person next to them thinks."

Published 10 January 2018 at 8:28pm, updated 11 January 2018 at 6:21am
By Nick Baker