Australian Islamic groups call for 'deeper compassion' for LGBTI Muslims

More than 50 prominent Australian Muslims and Islamic organisations have reached out to LBGTI members of their faith in a landmark statement calling for “deeper compassion for each other” following the Orlando shootings.

Representatives of the community including a cleric, Imam Afroz Ali, senior social worker Maha Abdo and Ali Kadri of the Islamic Council of Queensland signed a statement on Wednesday declaring there was “no justification for homophobia”.

“The LBGTQI community has a long history of experiencing prejudice, vilification and violence,” the statement read.

“Whilst investigations are still on foot, the mass shooting in Orlando was a targeted attack on that community … We reject the hatred and anger that leads to this kind of abhorrent violence.”

The statement included a rare public acknowledgment of homosexual and transgendered Muslims in a community that remains largely conservative on issues of sexual identity.

“We would like to send a message to LBGTQI Muslims who may be experiencing a deep sense of shock and grief,” the statement said.

“This is an opportunity for us to cultivate a deeper compassion for each other – regardless of our differences.”

Ali, a scholar in the Hanafi tradition, said Islam was clear in prohibiting sexual contact between people of the same gender, “but every school makes it absolutely clear that homophobia cannot be a part of religion”.

“To disagree on the basis of values and principles and evidence is one thing, it’s something else entirely to hate someone who disagrees with you,” he said. “The universal value of the right of another to be able to practice what they want to practice is well protected under Islam.”

Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in an Orlando gay club on Sunday, claimed he was acting on behalf of Islamic State, though officials are yet to publicly confirm any direct link between the 29-year-old and the militant group.

Reports that the shooter was psychologically unstable and may have been a regular patron of the club have also muddied his motives for committing the US’s deadliest mass-shooting.

Wednesday’s statement is significant because Islam, like Christianity, is doctrinally opposed to homosexual acts.

Several Islamic-majority states still rely on Qur’anic precepts to justify executing those convicted of homosexuality in some circumstances.

More than 150 American Muslims signed a statement on Tuesday decrying the Orlando attack.

“While most American Muslims adhere to a strict Abrahamic morality, the Qur’an is clear that its injunctions apply only to Muslims who choose to follow them: ‘There is absolutely no compulsion in religion’,” the statement said.

“Difference is no justification for violence.”