LGBTI rights from the Islamic, Christian and Jewish perspectives

Monday, October 10, 2016

Islam, Christianity and Judaism... How are LGBTI people perceived from the different religions? How do religious LGBTI people live? What are the expectations and problems of them? On 5th of October, LGBTI activists and religious scholars discussed all of these together during the conference organised by Kaos GL and Heinrich Böll in Berlin.

Kaos GL and Heinrich Böll Stiftung organized a conference on “Religion and LGBTI Rights” on the 5th of October in Berlin. LGBTI activists and religious scholars, discussed the needs of religious LGBTI people and the interfaces between religion, faith and LGBTI-rights.

Conference started with the speeches of Kristian Brakel from Heinrich Böll and Ali Erol from Kaos GL. Brakel told: “Exclusion of LGBTI people is connected with the religion as well as other social institutions, and unchangeable and untouchable religious holiness is used as the excuse of this inclusion and discrimination.”

After Ali Erol briefly told about the studies of Kaos GL, he mentioned the heterogenous structure of LGBTI society; that is, “they appear in every segment of the society including religious sects and communities. At that point, LGBTI society is connected with the discussions on religious freedom both vertically and horizontally” he said.

Coordinator of Salaam Shalom Initiative Armin Langer from Germany, Imam Dr. Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed from CALEM from France and Dr. Gerhard Schreber from Religion Phylosophy Institute of Goethe University also gave a speech in the first session.

“Reforms always come from minorities.”

During his speech Imam Zahed firstly introduced the Islamic organizations, initiatives and religious scholars supporting the gender equality and LGBTI rights; then, he talked about the reformist Islam and emphasized the importance of the feminist Islamic studies and their critical view for the further studies. While talking about the Islamic reforms and Re-Islamization movement, he said: “Men in power mostly impose monist identities. Therefore, as the minority groups we have to be more visible and lead the movement. Because reforms always come from minorities; on the other hand, majority causes conservatism.”

Protestantism and sexuality

While Dr. Gerhard Schreber was talking about the relation between Protestantism and sexuality during his speech, he mentioned the structure of German Protestant Church and German Evangelical Church. Although it seems to be a long path to reach the religious recognition of queerness, he indicated the blessing of same sex partnership in Evangelical Churches and the employment of some trans-individuals in the churches. He also mentioned the memorandum studies about the family policies and studies on sexual ethic of Evangelical Church.

Jewish rules and homosexuality

As the last speaker of the first session Armin Langer also talked about the relation of Judaism and queerness and he indicated that in Judaism polygamy is actually allowed theoretically. While mentioning the different sects of Judaism and different approaches about queerness, he said: “Although in Judaism homosexuality is claimed that it is against nature, circumcision as one of the most important points in a Jewish man’s life, is also against nature but everybody can tolerate it without a doubt; therefore, they could also ‘tolerate’ homosexuality in the same way.”

Translation: Damla Umut Uzun

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