Islam and Homosexuality: Identity, Threat and Sexual Health among Muslim Gay




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Our identities are multifaceted. Throughout the life course, we will join and leave many different social groups. Some group memberships are transient, such as being a university student as one eventually graduates and ceases to be a student, while others are viewed as primordial and “essential” to the self, such as one’s ethnic group membership and, for many Muslims, their religious group membership. Some of the facets of our identities can become “inter-connected” over time often because other people highlight the links between them. For instance, religious authorities often problematize homosexuality and, thus, they render religion and homosexuality “inter-connected” in people’s minds. Consequently, we begin to think about how the two identities fit together, that is, their compatibility and coherence. Over the last few years, social scientists have conducted research into identity processes among gay1 men of religious faith (Coyle & Rafalin, 2000; Jaspal & Cinnirella, 2010, 2012). In this work, it has become clear that contemplating the relationship between sexuality and religion can be a source of psychological distress. In many religious traditions, there is an emphasis on heterosexual marriage – the sacred, spiritual, and physical union of a man and a woman. Homosexuality is often understood to constitute a contravention of this religious expectation. It is noteworthy that some individuals may therefore construe their homosexuality in terms of a behavior, rather than as an element of identity, given that behavior is generally perceived to be more transient and mutable than identity. This chapter focuses on the relations between religion and sexuality – two facets of identity are often inter-connected - among Muslim gay men. There is a widespread perception that Islam is fundamentally opposed to homosexuality, which can present social and psychological challenges to wellbeing among gay Muslims. In exploring the interrelations between religion and sexuality among Muslim gay men, tenets of Identity Process Theory and Social Representations Theory from social psychology will be drawn upon.




Jaspal, R. (2018) Islam and Homosexuality: Identity, Threat and Sexual Health among Muslim Gay. In: J.M. Ryan and H. Rizzo, eds. Sexualities in the Contemporary Middle East


Research Institute

Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Mary Seacole Research Centre