Europe's largest LGBTIQ+ Muslim charity, Imaan, launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for its first-ever pride festival dedicated to the members of its community. The campaign has so far exceeded its initial target of £5,000 ($6,179), which encouraged the organization to raise it to £10,000 ($12,359).
"With the extra funding, we can produce a bigger, bolder, more exciting event AND subsidise a number of places for those who cannot afford to attend. Anything left over will go into running costs of our monthly support groups," Imaan said, explaining why the target was doubled.
The parade, a first of its kind, is set to take place in London during the spring of 2020 as part of the charity's 20th anniversary celebrations. The event will feature panels, discussions, speakers, arts, culture, and history. It is meant to honor being part of both the Muslim and the LGBTIQ+ community.
"Imaan Fest is something that we definitely will - in all traditions of Muslim celebrations - make quite fantastic and glamorous," Joy Muhammad, member of Imaan, said during an interview with BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat.
The Imaan Fest is a major statement against the rise of homophobia and transphobia, which, according to The Guardian, have doubled over the last four years. The significant increase of Islamophobic incidents since the New Zealand attacks in early 2019 is also part of the organization's message.
However, the LGBTIQ+ Muslim community not only has to deal with homophobia and Islamophobia from those surrounding them, but from within the community itself. According to Muhammad, "There's Islamophobia that we sometimes have to deal with within Pride and within LGBTQI communities. Not just at Pride, but within the queer community. Not only with the Muslim community, but also with other religious communities, we're being told to choose between our religion and our queer identity."
This is the result of strict interpretations of religious scripture, anti-LGBTIQ+ legislation, and long-standing cultural and societal norms in Arab and Islamic countries.
"I wouldn't openly discuss certain topics within the Muslim community – and sexuality is one of them. But then again sexual orientation – whether queer or straight – isn't really discussed in the first place. There are a lot of conservative circles within the Muslim community for cultural reasons," Muhammad explained.
This can be seen from the crowdfunding's list of donor names, which seems to be largely comprised of non-Muslims.
In July, a video was posted on Twitter capturing a Muslim woman in a niqab shouting the words "shame on you" at a parader during a pride march. Jamila Choudhury, 38, also quoted Alan Partridge - a British television fictional comic character - saying "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."
Choudhury, was officially charged with a hate crime public order offense on Sept. 5 and is due to appear on bail in court on Oct. 3.
"It's really nice when you walk into a space and you can see someone that maybe looks like you, or has the same values - it doesn't always have to be visible. I'll go to Pride and also go to Black Pride and I'll probably also go to Muslim Pride. I go out of solidarity, out of support also for myself, to build community, there's so many positives to just interacting and understanding that within a group of people," Badat said.
Imaan's project leader, who goes by the name Rose, explained how the mission is to "show that there is no padlock on Islam anywhere in the world. We are multi-racial, gendered and sexual. No one is the gatekeeper – we all should be able to talk about the Muslim experience. We are just Muslims that happen to be gay or trans."