By Benjamin Weinthal
BERLIN – An imam in France has approved the marriage of two men who had previously married in South Africa, where same-sex marriage is legal, but the French government refuses to recognize it.
The Muslim spiritual leader offered his blessing to French- Algerian Ludovic Mohamed Zahed and his partner, Qiyam al-Din, a South African, during a ceremony outside Paris February 12.
Pink News, Europe’s largest gay news service, reported on Monday about the marriage.
According to an April 2 report on al-Bawaba, the men first married according to Shari’a law before a Mauritian imam named Jamal who blessed their matrimony.
Zahed told France 24 that he met Din last year at a convention on AIDS in South Africa.
“I was in the lecture hall when an imam – who incidentally, is gay himself – introduced me to Din. We discovered we had a lot in common and a mutual admiration was cemented. I stayed on after the convention for two months, deciding to get married, since South African laws were more friendly [to same-sex unions].”
In an email to The Jerusalem Post, Yoav Sivan, an Israeli journalist living in New York, who writes for Gay City News , noted that same-sex has been legal in South Africa since 2006.
“It might be too early to frame this encouraging event as a trend, but it is not too early to take it as a reminder to stop using homosexuality as a political weapon against Islam and religion in general,” Sivan said.
Sivan, who served on the boards of Aguda, the Israeli Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Association, the Jerusalem Open House and the Israeli board of the World Jewish Congress, added that the “acceptance of homosexuality among communities of faith can only result from activism from the inside, from those who are committed to religion just as much as they are committed to progress.”
According to al-Bawaba, “Ludovic decided to make his wedding a family affair, with his trusted Mauritian imam in tow. He read the Fatiha [opening of the Koran] and blessed the marriage.”
Writing by email from New York to the Post, Jayson Littman, the founder of He’bro, an organization for gay Jews, noted, “Any time we see gay men or women of faith marrying in accordance with their religious beliefs and proud to do so, it brings the entire LGBT community of faith one step closer in accepting the different parts of who we are.” Many times LGBT people from religious backgrounds come out as gay, but leave their faith in the very closet they left, he said.
“In order to be truly happy, we must embrace our full selves – including our identity of faith.”
Littman, a strong advocate for Israel, sees Zahed and Din’s marriage as bringing the entire LGBT and non-LGBT community of faith “one step closer to integration.
“The fact that we are able to see a Muslim couple using their full names shows we are at a time when small shifts are happening within the religious Muslim community, and with the blessing of their families and an imam show significant progress.”
Ludovic told al-Bawaba he has known he was gay since he was young. “I liked, even loved, the Imam who taught me the Quran in Algeria back in 1995, despite all the threats from my family and the social pressure from Arab society whether in France or in Algeria, I have not changed.”
Source: JERUSALEM POST