London Will Host ‘World’s First’ Muslim LGBTQ+ Pride Festival

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Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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London will be hosting the world’s first LGBT+ Muslim Pride festival in April 2020.

LGBT+ Muslim group Imaan began ticket sales for the event, called “Imaanfest: Muslim Pride,” on Wednesday, according to Pink News. Imaan LGBTQI Muslim support is celebrating its 20th birthday by organizing the event, which the ticket sales page describes as the world’s first LGBTQI Muslim pride festival. 

The event will take place at an undisclosed location in east London on April 11. 

The event is primarily for “LGBTQI Muslims” with a focus on accommodating under-represented members of the LGBTQI Muslim community, like “lesbian and bisexual women (cis and trans), trans men, non-binary people, disabled people, refugees and asylum seekers and LGBTQI Muslims who aren’t from a South Asian background,” the eventbrite page says.

There were over 3.4 million Muslims in Great Britain in 2018 according to Britain’s Office for National Statistics, the total population being 66.4 million. A significant portion of the Muslim population is Pakistani, which is geographically considered a south Asian country.

The ticket includes a day’s worth of sessions, workshops, panels, discussions, film programs, oral history exhibition, lunch, dinner and entertainment, the eventbrite page says. The event will also feature black bisexual activist and historian Blair Imani and trans activist Asifa Lahore, a Pakistani-Muslim who described to the Guardian in 2014 the challenges LGBT people face in conservative Muslims communities.

“I studied the Qur’an carefully before I came out and know what it says about homosexuality,” Lahore told the Guardian. “But I told the imam that I just want to have a monogamous relationship with my partner, not indulge in wild sex orgies and live an immoral life and that on the day of judgment I wanted to tell Allah that I had lived a life where I was honest and true to myself; that I had been authentic in my actions and feelings.” An imam is a Muslim religious leader. 

Religious conservatives including British Muslims can often be at odds with national, government-sponsored campaigns that promote non-traditional teachings, such as same-sex marriages, bisexuality, and transgender identities. When Parliament approved sex education lessons in elementary school and above that included instruction on matters such as same-sex marriage and LGBT identities last year, Stop RSE (Relationship and Sex Education) campaign emerged in resistance.

Dr. Kate Godfrey-Faussett, a Muslim psychologist in the U.K., supported the campaign and was hit with an investigation into her fitness to practice psychology. (RELATED:UK Muslim Psychologist Under Fire For Supporting Campaign That Reportedly Endorsed ‘Lashing And Killing Gay People’)

The campaign allegedly posted materials to its website that advocated for flogging and killing gay people. Godfrey-Faussett argued against the “queering” of Muslims and urged those who experienced same-sex attraction to receive psychological treatment. She told the Guardian in 2019 that Muslims in the U.K. were “turning to same-sex relationships because they haven’t had the guidance.”