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A "Let's Talk" op-ed piece on Aljazeera Magazine:

Sheikha Sajida of Aljazeera.com posted an op-ed piece about same-sex marriage on 2006-OCT-26. "Tom from U.S." sent her an Email noting that a court in New Jersey had just ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights, privileges and obligations of marriage that have long been enjoyed only by opposite-sex couples. He asked why SSM is still banned in Muslim countries. His note ended, stating that homosexuals:

"... should be respected, as well as their needs. It only shows the lack; or Iíd rather say the absence of tolerance in those states. God bless America!"

Her column is particularly interesting because it demonstrates the agreement between conservative Christians and Muslims, and the contrasting beliefs held by liberal Christians, liberal Muslims and secularists.

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Sajida's main points:

She wrote that SSM and homosexual behavior are prohibited in Islam and thus is banned in Arab and Muslim states because they:

bulletWould have a "devastating effect and chaos" on society
bulletSSM is "reversal of the natural order."
bulletSSM is a moral disorder.
bulletGod established limits on humans which SSM would violate.
bulletSSM is not a legal right.
bulletHomosexuality is a bad habit.
bulletLike alcohol or other forms of drug addiction, homosexuality starts with an experimental experience and quickly develops into an addiction.
bulletAll religions in the world prohibit homosexual behavior.

She cites the Quran, 7:80-1

"And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you? Lo! ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton folk."

She also cites three of the Bible's "clobber passages:"

bulletGenesis 19:4-5: This is the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Religious conservatives generally interpret this chapter as referring to homosexual desires of the entire male population of the two cities. Religious liberals and secularists generally interpret the citizen of Sodom's crime as attempted homosexual rape and lack of caring for orphans, widows, strangers, and others. Rape is not common in either SSM or opposite-sex marriage.
bulletLeviticus 18:22: This prohibits anal sex between two males. Conservative generally interpret this verse as referring to all forms of sex between either two men or two women. Liberals frequently interpret the verse as applying only to male Jews who engaged in same-sex ritual sexual behavior in Pagan temples.
bulletLeviticus 20:13: This is essentially identical to the other Leviticus verse, except that the execution of both parties is mandated.

She quotes an Amicus Curia (court brief) written by Hawaii's Future Today (HFT) in opposition to SSM. They described SSM as: "a radical reform in the basic institution of marriage, jettisoning long-recognized cultural values and drastically redefining the fundamental structure of our society..."

She concludes:

"I thank god [sic] we donít have that type of freedom in the Middle East, if you consider allowing men marry each other and women become couples a form of 'freedom'."

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Opposing beliefs:

Sheikha Sajida was writing from a traditional Muslim viewpoint, interpreting the Qur'an literally. The views that she expressed would probably agree with most religious and social conservatives. However, many religious liberals and secularists would disagree with her statements:

bulletThe Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and South Africa have legalized same-sex marriage. Much of Europe and three states in the U.S. have given loving, committed same-sex couples the same rights as have long been enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. None of these states and countries have reported "devastating effect and chaos."
bulletOpposite-sex marriage is desired by many adults. SSM is desired by many homosexuals and bisexuals. Professional mental health associations have determined that heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality are three normal and natural sexual orientations. Homosexuality and bisexuality is part of the "natural order," and is found in humans, all other mammals, and many other animal species.
bulletReligious conservatives definitely believe that homosexuality and SSM is a moral disorder. Most people agree that all forms of sexual behavior can be misused and thus sinful. However most gays, lesbians, homosexuals, professional associations, religious liberals, secularists, and others regard all three sexually orientations as themselves morally neutral.
bulletSajida believes that God established limits on human behavior which SSM would violate. However, various faith groups have different interpretations about what those limits are. A growing number of people believe that all loving, committed couples should be able to obtain marriage rights, obligations, and privileges for their own piece of mind, for their protection, and for the protection of their children.
bulletSSM is, in fact, a legal right in a growing number of countries and jurisdictions.
bulletReligious conservatives often regard homosexuality as chosen, changeable, abnormal, unnatural behavior to which people can become addicted. Many believe it is caused by childhood abuse or poor parenting,  But child psychologists can predict with excellent accuracy which pre-schoolers will grow up to be homosexual. Gays, lesbians, religious liberals and others generally regard homosexuality as unchosen, fixed, normal, natural orientation caused by a person's genes and/or an environmental trigger. Evidence seems to indicate it is set up by a person's genes and triggered by something in the environment.
bulletIn fact, all religions in the world do not prohibit homosexual behavior. The teachings of faith groups are in a state of flux and trending towards acceptance of homosexuality as normal and natural for a minority of adults.

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Readers' comments:

These replies are apparently from individuals of various organized religions, and perhaps secularists. They were attached to the "Let's Talk" op-ed piece We have corrected some grammar, spelling, etc in their postings. Some of the responses are a little difficult to read because the Aljazeera Magazine has filters in place that censor incoming messages. The filters remove the letters "sex" from same-sex marriage and homosexual, for example.

bulletMohammed from Nigeria: "America is the Devil country. ... the U.S. has no morality. Anybody who proclaims to be in Islam is under Shariah [law]'. A Muslim nation is not democratic nor secular. A gay [person] is outside [of] Islam and not within the fold of Islam. Gay is totally condemned in the Qur'an and Hadith and should be punishable by stoning. No apology for this."
bulletGeorge from India: "Homosexual behavior is ..."against the natural order. I guess it boils down to people who fear God and people who don't (I guess they don't believe in God). The Holy Bible says that 'The fool sayeth in his heart, "there is no God'."
bulletMichael from Australia: "In Iran and a lot of other M.E countries you'll get hanged or stoned for being a homosexual. I have nothing against gay people, what they do is their own business. But they are also human beings and deserve the same rights as everyone else. This is what separates the West from M.E countries: human rights. God Bless America, God Save the Queen and thank Christ for Australia."
bulletReason from Colorado: "There have been many studies that have found biological components about the people that are gay. There are also animals that are gay. Are you saying that the animals made the choice the choice to be gay? Just because you don't understand the biochemistry behind something does not mean that it is not true. You have the guts to say scientifically speaking that being gay is just a habit. You really have no idea what you are talking about. Please try to do a little bit of research before you say such silly things. If it was not biological then why are there gay animals?"
bulletSpace people from Milky Way: "Same sex marriage is undesirable because it is nasty, unclean and against nature. That is why people need to watch and stay away from that alki, dope and being around people with bad behavior. These things can influence the youth and lead people into abominable kinky things. These things are mind altering."
bulletFarouq from UK: "Same[-sex] marriages are banned in most countries because it is against human nature. It is immoral. Now it's same marriage. Tomorrow it will be marrying animals like they do in some western countries. Get a grip, you disgusting people."
bulletBrendon from USA: "Why does God, either Christian or Muslim or whatever, make people gay if it is so evil? it isn't a choice these people make. they are born this way and are definitely different. The human body is very complex and to say that someone is morally wrong because of it is INTOLERANT. I'm not really a fan of homos but I'm less a fan of religion. RELIGION... THE GLOBAL DIVIDER."
bulletFaz from UAE: "... every religion is against sodomy and Gayism. If you have forgotten Christianity go back and read the Bible and stop acting like a hypocrite."
bulletMiss from UK: "Live and let live! Religion teaches intolerance when at the same time tells people to turn the other cheek. If 2 people love each other how is it harming me?? There are so many heterosexual couples who are together and don't love each over. This creates a bad environment and a bad home life for their children."
bulletPeter from Norway: "Homosexuality, like most other traits, is [caused by] a MIX of genes and environment, although we don't know how much of each for every case. This is basic genetics. The same goes for alcoholism and other "bad habits", since you mentioned that. ... You also say that homosexuality is a reversal of the natural order, which I think is plain wrong. In nature there are hardly any patterns without exceptions. You can't say that things with a higher concentration is more natural. What about people who are infertile/sterile? Are they a reversal of the natural order as well? And should they not have sexual intercourse, since it will not lead to procreation in their case?"
bulletDhudi from USA: "SURA IV: 21. 'And if two (men) of you commit it, then hurt them both; but if they turn again and amend, leave them alone, verily, G-d is easily turned, compassionate.'  It appears to be ok for men to sleep together according to the Book, as long as they donít do it again and again."
bulletLore from Belgium: "I don't agree with your statements because I'm bisexual and I'm perfectly happy the way I am. Homosexuality is something you are born with and I believe the middle east countries should respect those people were are the same like everyone else. In your country [there] are gay people to but they are afraid to say it because of your religion and your system."
bulletAssaf from USA: "I think I need to remind people that Marriage is a HUMAN INVENTION developed by people for people and not a natural instinct. ... Because marriage is a human invention and not written in our genes it is, by definition, a flexible term that can change. I don't see why two people who love each other can't marry."
bulletAbu Abdur-Rahman from USA: "... this issue of same marriage is just a sign of the times. i agree one hundred and fifty percent with Sheikha Sajida. Same[-sex] marriage is wrong morally and even within the major religions is deemed as wrong. Fear god. Fear god. Fear god. As if judgment is not a reality."
bulletSAB from Canada: "The secular West chooses to accept their ...[homosexuals] while the Middle east chooses to kill theirs. No, it is not completely Genetic in nature but a combination of genetic predisposition, biological development and environment. But it is natural. Whether you think that we as thinking humans, must fight these urges, or whether doing so is living a lie is up to you. But you can't sit there and deny its existence or call it evil or even good. It just is."
bulletCommoner from Banladesh: "A tiger goes for tigress and Elephant goes for elephant and so on and so forth. ... Then why do men go for men ? It's shameful and bestial as well. It is their only desire in life and they want to enjoy it in a sadistic way. I am not surprised at the comments of the people of west supporting the bestial act since it is in their blood as their women folk have also opted towards lesbianism contesting to be equal with men folk. What a unholy contest dragging the society to total destruction and turn beasts ? Shame on the proponent[s] of the same sex marriage."

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  1. Sheikha Sajida, "Gay marriage is prohibited in Islam & Christianity!," Lets Talk, 2006-OCT-26, at: http://www.aljazeera.com/

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Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-NOV-03
Latest update: 2006-NOV-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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