Islam sect rejects gay marriages

The leader of Canada's 25,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims can't understand why same-sex legislation hasn't been debated in Parliament or gone through a national referendum when so many people oppose it.

"Why is the political process not being used?" Naseem Mahdi of Toronto asked Sunday before delivering the keynote address opposing the marriages at his religion's weekend convention in Edmonton.

"Why is a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal, one person, deciding the definition of marriage? I asked one MP who said he received three calls in favour of same-sex marriage and 1,400 calls or e-mails against it."

The federal government has presented a draft bill to change the definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian unions. The Alberta government served notice Friday it will intervene in the Supreme Court review.

About 2,000 members of this branch of Islam from across Western Canada gathered in

Edmonton to discuss many issues including same-sex marriage.

The Ahamadiyya community was formed about 100 years ago in India.

The often-persecuted group, which claims about 200 million members worldwide, protects its beliefs through argument and not violence, said Mohyuddin Mirza of Edmonton's Baitul Hadi Mosque.

Mahdi said he joins the leaders of Canada's major religions in opposing any move to legally recognize same-sex marriages.

"Our point of view is that God is the creator of life, he regulates this life and he is the one who should be able to decide what is wrong and what is right," he said. "Interestingly, the Charter of Rights, which is being used nowadays, accepts the supremacy of God."

Marriage is the foundation of Islamic society, he said, and fulfils several important functions, including companionship and procreation.

Mahdi didn't condemn homosexuals.

"We hate the crime, not the criminal," he said, adding that homosexuality between adults in the privacy of their bedrooms is something God must judge.

He predicted the legislation would not only promote homosexual marriages but could also open the door to recognizing other types of relationships.

"Would the citizens of Canada be required, in the guise of the charter or evolution of society, to accept human marriages with other life forms as well?" he asked.

But should same-sex marriages become legal, Mahdi said the marriages will not be performed in his mosques.

"Whatever is decided, as it is not pushing us, the religious organizations, to perform those marriages, we say fine, we have made our point and we agree to disagree on this issue and we will continue the discussion."