Homosexuality in the Muslim World: An Overview

Looking at a video like that, one might get the impression that Muslims are routinely murdered in the Muslim World. Whether or not Muslims think that is what should be done or not, the death penalty for homosexuality is rarely carried out in the Muslim World, with some notable exceptions in the Levant and Mesopotamia, where the killings are extrajudicial murders and not state executions. These areas for whatever reason (probably cultural) have the worst homophobia and anti-gay violence in the Muslim World.

Even among radical Muslims like the Taliban in Afghanistan, sex with men and teenage boys is very common. Homosexuality is quite common in Pakistan, especially in the radicalized West, but no one does much about it. There have possibly been 5-6,000  executions of gay men in Iran, but the last hanging I saw was supposedly for two men who were convicted of raping teenage boys, not simple homosexuality.

In Iraq, things have been pretty bad for gays since 2001. Before 2001, Saddam did not care about them much one way or the other. The Shia militias have been murdering many gays, and ISIS of course also murders homosexuals.

Gays are killed in ISIS-controlled areas of Syria. Government persecution of gays by the Syrian state is off and on. Some gays are arrested and tortured or beaten by the state, but this is not common. In recent years, Syria has taken a hands off approach to homosexuals, sort of a see no evil, hear no evil/don’t ask, don’t tell approach. The state does not approve of gays, but they pretty much leave them alone recently. There is actually a gay hookup application being used by Syrian gays, and there are quite a few men on there. It would be trivial for the state to go after users of the app, but they have not done so. There are even 25 accounts in ISIS-controlled Raqqa!

I read an account by a gay man who went to Syria with his male lover ~15 years ago. They visited a coastal city, and the man said that he and his partner were propositioned everywhere – even by taxi drivers. They took a stroll along the beach and said that the social scene was all male, and a lot of the men seemed to be coming onto them. He described Syria as a gay paradise.

There are quite a few gays among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They are ostracized from the rest of the refugee community and live in fear, residing communally with other gay men in crowded apartments in Beirut.

Homosexuality is rampant in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at least. Traditionally not much has been done about it. A gay man took a trip to Kuwait recently and described it as a gay paradise. He met all sorts of Kuwaiti men who seemed to figure out he was gay via gaydar and propositioned him. He went to the beach at midnight and saw a number of gay couples having sex there by the moonlight.

There are even actual gay bars in Saudi Arabia, but they are not labeled as such. The authorities know what they are, but they don’t do anything. Also in Saudi Arabia men often walk around holding hands or with their arms around each other, so it’s easy for gay men to do this too and get away with it. A Kuwaiti friend of mine told, “All Saudi men are gay.” I asked her to elaborate and she said, “Well, at least 50%.” She also said that most of them were married, and the homosexuality was more properly seen as bisexuality. She also said it caused a lot of problems for married Saudi women who did not appreciate this behavior.

Ostentatious homosexuality is persecuted. A wedding party for two gay men was recently broken up by authorities. In addition, ~40 gay men have been arrested recently for crimes such as marrying other men, dressing like women in public and posting a gay flag on their balcony. The prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for all of these men. So you can see that Saudi Arabia has a don’t ask, don’t tell mindset about homosexuality.

Opportunistic lesbianism or bisexuality is very common among put-upon Saudi princesses or sheikhas. A lot of these women are miserable due to male chauvinism and try to allay their sorrows via pills, booze and lesbian affairs. Nothing is done to these women at all. There are separate boys and girls high schools, and there are problems with epidemic opportunistic lesbianism or bisexuality in girls’ schools. It is getting to be such a problem that it is interfering with girls’ education via problems like drama, breakdowns, crying and fights over lesbian romances.

It is very common for homosexuals to be killed in Palestine. Happens all the time. In fact, a number of Palestinian gay men have asked for and been given asylum in Israel on account of being gay.

Homosexuality goes on in Lebanon, and not much is done about it. However, in the South, Hezbollah has a tendency to beat up gay men if they hear about them, but they don’t kill them. There are occasional arrests and imprisonments. A woman was recently sentenced to one year in prison for lesbianism.

In Egypt, male homosexuality is very common from Cairo all the way down to the south. I read a blog post by a gay man who went there, and he was amazed at how much homosexuality there was. In the South, river boatmen on the Nile propositioned him. He also met a gay male couple in Egypt who lived together quietly. Nobody much cared. Most people seemed to know about it, but there was a don’t ask, don’t tell mindset going on.

However, the Egyptian state does not approve of ostentatious homosexuality. A raucous gay party on a large boat in the Nile was recently broken up by authorities. A number of the participants were sentenced to up to four years in prison. ~20% of young Egyptian men engage in opportunistic homosexuality, mostly because women are not available. Most of them play the male role and hence do not consider themselves gay. A few men play the female role and are labeled as gay.

All of the above is from the Mubarak era; I have no idea what things are like now.

I have no information about homosexuality in Libya, Tunisia or Algeria. However, homosexuality has traditionally been very common in Morocco. Western gay expats, including a number of men of letters such as William S. Burroughs and Paul Bowles, lived there for years. Bowles lived in Morocco for most of his life. Both men frequently had sex with gay teenage boys and young men in the cities. However, some of his neighbors found out about this behavior and got angry at Burroughs. I have read reports that said that ~20% of young single Moroccan men engage in opportunistic homosexuality which takes the same form as the Egyptian model above.

I have no information about homosexuality in Muslim Africa in the Sahel, the Horn or to the south.

Homosexuality is supposedly very common in Turkey. Western men sentenced to time in Turkish prisons have said things like, “All Turkish men are gay.” I doubt if that is accurate, but male homosexuality may be common there.

I have no information on homosexuality in Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Muslim Russia, Muslim Ukraine, the Stans or Xinjiang in China.

I also have no information on homosexuality in Muslim Burma, Muslim India, the Muslim South in Thailand, the Muslim South in the Philippines or Indonesia.

In addition, I have no information about homosexuality among Muslim communities in the West.

Any information on homosexuality in these Muslim nations and communities would be welcome.

17 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan, Africa, Albania, Algeria, Asia, Azerbaijan, Caucasus, China, Culture, Egypt, Eurasia, Europe, Government, Homosexuality, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Middle East, Morocco, Near East, North Africa, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Russia, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Sex, Shiism, Social Problems, Sociology, South Asia, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine

17 responses to “Homosexuality in the Muslim World: An Overview

  1. In India the dumb fuck government that they have has actually criminalized Homosexuality- a law put in by the British that they never bothered updating. But gays abound everywhere. I think in some departments I think you can say India is fairly modernized(or safer perhaps) than most of the Islamic states. Its pretty common to hook up in secrecy though because if any authority asshole catches them they ask for bribe or put them in. Such is the shambolic state of existence here.

    On a side-note I doubt if most of what you wrote is true. I hear stories of pretty bad action that involves homosexuality. Heck even straight couples can’t indulge in public affection, I highly doubt homosexuality would. Even Dubai and those places which are filled with westerners are pretty strict in this regard.

    • It’s all true. I have been studying the subject for years. The Saudi data is from one of the US’ top experts on Saudi Arabia, who lives there.

      • Lin

        Its so obvious that Sunni Islam in the Middle East is more a vehicle of Arab nationalism/tribalism than a religion. What can you do when the Holy Prophet is definitely the greatest ever Arab national hero who propelled a once small tribe to BIG time? The Holy Prophet be praised!!!

        1) Arabs are a superior race:

        “Indeed it is the belief of the Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama’ah that the race of Arabs is superior to the race of non-Arabs, the Hebrews (Jews), the Syrians (Arameans), the Romans (Europeans), the Persians, and others. And indeed the Quraysh [tribe of the Prophet (S)] is the most superior among the Arabs. And indeed the Banu Hashim [the clan of the Prophet (S)] is the most superior among the Quraysh. And indeed the Prophet, may the Blessings and Peace of Allah be upon him, is the most superior of the Banu Hashim, for he is the most superior of all creation by his own self, and also the most superior among them because of his lineage (ancestry).”

        http://islamicvirtues.com/2013/12/12/superiority-of-the-race-of-arabs-over-non-arabs/

        2) Arabic is the language of Jannah (paradise), according to the companions of the prophet if not the prophet himself. Its impossible to de-Arabise Islam.

        3) The house of Saud, the custodian of the two Islamic holy places (Mecca and Medina) and the Wahhabis, the followers of the strictest Islamic sect, once allied with the evil kufirs of England and France in WW1 to topple the last (Ottoman Turk) Caliphate. An act of treason. NO BIG DEAL.

        4) The civil war after the death of prophet Muhammad between Sunnis and Shiites was so obviously a conflict between Arab tribal power (led by the chief of Muhammad’s tribe & father-in-law of Muhammad) and the drive to form a Muhammad dynasty (led by Ali, son-in-law of Muhammad). The tribal chief won.

        5) Homosexuality in Arab countries are defined to limit the punishment:

        a) Oral sex is obscenity or masturbation, not homosex.

        b) If one is on top and didn’t ‘love’ the ‘bottom’ during the act, it also defines as not homosexuality.

  2. Jason Y

    So is estrogen containing foods a risk? How about older men with declining testosterone and rising estrogen, unless combated ?

  3. jorge

    If that information about homosexuality in Turkey is based on prison stories, can’t be applied to regular Turkey society. Prison is prison everywhere.

  4. Jason Y

    Isn’t it the point of seperate schools for boys and girls to reduce romance interfering with school, but it doesn’t.

  5. The homosexuality here in the Philippines is quite similar there in US but our constitution don’t allow same-sex marriage, nevertheless homosexual relationships exists here and accepted by some people.

    • Filipino Muslims are known to be warriors and due to that fact there might another closet gay like Kris who once said that his family couldn’t accept him if he come out.

  6. its pretty obvious that homosexuality flourishes in countries where there is extreme sex segregation and men and women don’t have access to the opposite sex.

    People have libidos and sexual energies and they will find an outlet. This is the big failure of puritanical societies.

  7. tristero

    Here’s a very recent video from Vice TV on homosexuals/trans-sexuals in Pakistan. Quite interesting.

  8. Seikei

    I don’t like the way homosexuality is portrayed in articles like this. Saying things like “homosexuality is rampant in…” always have this dehumanising tone. Homosexuality is usually portrayed as some sort of practice and not as an inherent trait in a portion of the human population that encompases more than just sex but also emotions and romanticism. You never get to read articles treating heterosexuality as practice: “heterosexuality is rampant in…” Also, homosexuality is instantly associated with having sex with boys which is another wrong assumption about homosexuality.

    Homosexuality is not a practice; homosexuality is the sexual, emotional and romantic attraction to the same sex. It is an innate trait determined in the womb as the fetus develops. Homosexuality is constant in the animal kingdom which includes human beings, of course. About 10% of the human population is attracted to the same sex, so homosexuality is no more present in a specific country or region on the planet; it is always constant in number so it cannot be rampant.

    Homosexuality and ephebephilia (attraction to teens) are not the same thing. Homosexual men are attracted to men; not boys who haven’t reached maturity. Ephebephiles are a disticnt class of people of all sexual orientations who xperience attraction to boys and/or girls still in the process of puberty where their bodies are still not fully developed. Homosexual men, on the other hand, are attracted to men with matured traits that are reached during adulthood such as developed musculature, body hair, deepening of the voice, etc. Men who have sex with teen boys may as well be heterosexual because they are attracted by the still immature features of their bodies such as soft skin, delicate physical appearance, etc. which very much are in correlation with traits you find in women.

    Some heterosexual men have sex with men, but I highly doubt it that they do it out of the “need to release sex drive” both because masturbation can satisfy this need and because there is no correlation with gay men, that is, they don’t look for women when there aren’t men around to have sex with. In this case, many forms of sexual intercourse may be simply an act of domination which is not how homosexuality works.

    This is why I believe it is important to use proper language so misconceptions and prejudices about homosexuality can be swept away. Men having sex with men in the context can be described with the acronym MSM; likewise, men having sex with teen boys/girls are described as ephebephiles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s