London will on April 11 be hosting the world’s first-ever Muslim pride event, ‘ImaanFest’, which comes after a successful crowdfunding campaign by its organisers, Imaan, a leading Muslim LGBTQI+ group in the United Kingdom (UK).
LGBTQI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex, while the ‘+’ represents other sexual identities.
According to reports, ImaanFest organisers successfully raised close to $20,000 in order to host the event, explaining that LGBTIQ+ Muslims often found themselves isolated, without community and frequently facing homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and Islamaphobic abuse.
“The event will build on the incredible events we organised in the past, and feature panels, discussions, speakers, arts, culture and history — a first for LGBTQI Muslims,” they were quoted as saying.
With tickets for ImaanFest now available to members of the public, organisers are now using social media to reach queer Arab speakers and service providers who might like to get involved. Other speakers include queer British-Iraqi writer and filmmaker Amrou Al-Kadhi and trans activist Asifa Lahore.
An Islamic online news agency, 5 Pillars UK, notes that the event has been organised “despite Islam’s strict prohibition of homosexuality”. The news agency adds that the “practice and promotion of homosexuality is considered a major sin in Islam by all mainstream schools of thought”.
Imaan group has received a slew of negative tweets from online trolls after announcing the event over social media. But the group is responding to negative responses with “#Islamophobia”.
Most Muslim-majority countries and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have opposed moves to advance LGBTQI+ rights at the United Nations (UN), in both the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
A number of Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran among others, have strict laws against homosexuality, with punishments for the same being as serious as a jail term or the death penalty.