Paris Muslim activist to test Islamic taboos with gay-friendly mosque
Europe’s first gay and lesbian-friendly mosque opened on Friday in an eastern Paris suburb, in a challenge to mainstream Islam’s long tradition of condemning same-sex relationships.
The mosque, set up in a small room inside the house of a Buddhist monk, welcomed transgender and transsexual Muslims and seat men and women together, breaking with another custom where the sexes are normally segregated during prayer.
Its founder, French-Algerian gay activist and practising Muslim Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, will also encourage women to lead Friday prayers, smashing yet another taboo.
“It’s a radically inclusive mosque. A mosque where people can come as they are,” said Zahed, 35, whose prayer space will be the first in Europe to formally brand itself as a gay-friendly mosque, according to Muslim experts.
The mosque, which for now will be limited to Friday prayer sessions, is opening as religious leaders in France, including senior Muslims, are petitioning against plans by the Socialist government to legalise gay marriage.
“Being homosexual and Muslim is borderline schizophrenic,” said one of three gay Muslims who will lead prayers at the mosque, whose floor-to-ceiling windows look out on a garden decorated with Buddhist symbols.