What is thought to be the first Muslim LGBTQ Pride will take place in London in 2020

THE East London-based charity Imaan have launched a fundraiser for an event aimed at  at showing that ‘no one is the gatekeeper’ of Islam.

The festival, planned for the spring of next year, coincides with the group’s 20th anniversary and will celebrate the “best of LGBTQ Muslim culture.

The group has forged a “huge” nationwide network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans Muslims, who – “stuck in the middle between both homophobes and Islamophobes” – can face isolation.

Image via YouTube

Earlier this year, Asifa Lahore, Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen spoke in a YouTube video about growing up during the era of Section 28 and facing homophobic bullying growing up, the role of trans women in the fight for LGBTQ rights, including in the Stonewall Riots and how LGBT rights are progressing on the Asian continent

Rose, project lead for Imaan, said:

We want to show that there is no padlock on Islam anywhere in the world. We are multi-racial, gendered and sexual.

No one is the gatekeeper – we all should be able to talk about the Muslim experience. We are just Muslims that happen to be gay or trans.

News of the event takes place amid an ongoing row over the teaching of same-sex relationships at two primary schools in Birmingham, which has been the subject of intense media coverage.

Some parents, who are mostly Muslim but also conservative Christian and Jewish, launched a campaign after taking particular issue with a curriculum called “No Outsiders” which was created in 2014 by Andrew Moffat, a teacher at Birmingham’s Parkfield Community School.

Books used in the programme, which was eventually dropped after sustained protests, included stories about two male penguins that raise a chick together, and a boy that likes to dress up as a mermaid.

But Rose is quick to point out that these protesters only number tens of people, while “there were hundreds and thousands of people that happened to be queer and Muslim or trans and Muslim” before the issue became newsworthy.

She says that the festival aims to celebrate the group’s achievements in fighting prejudice for more than two decades.

Yes, it is a frightening time and these individuals that are changing the narrative. It’s a genuine fear.

But  she added:

We have many Muslim allies too. The only way we’re going to overcome this is if we have a celebration of the best of LGBTQ Muslim culture.

We want to engage and encourage Muslims across the country to have a better understanding of sexuality and also show that it is okay to be yourself.

The event will feature panel discussions, speakers, art, culture, and history.

Imaan has already raised more than £7,000 for the event.