Blaming it on Islam? Not so fast

So far, though, there have been only a few Muslims willing to reappraise it. The key point here is that while the words of scripture are fixed and unchangeable they are always subject to human interpretation, and interpretations may vary according to time, place and social conditions. This, of course, is something that fundamentalists, whether Muslim or Christian, prefer to deny.

The patriarchal system plays a major part in this too, with strongly defined roles for men and women. Gay men, especially those who show feminine traits, may thus be regarded as challenging the social order.

Although state law and traditional Islamic law view the penetrator and penetrated in anal sex as equally culpable, popular opinions of the penetrator tend to be less hostile: The receptive or passive partner, on the other hand, is viewed with disgust. Traditional ideas about gender roles cause particular problems for transgender people, especially in places where segregation of the sexes is more strictly enforced and cross-dressing is criminalised.

Within a couple of weeks at least 14 people were thrown into prison for the new offence. Since there is no mechanism in Kuwaiti law to register a change of sex, even trans people who have had surgery are at risk of arrest for cross-dressing. As it happens, Islam has case histories in this area which make it accommodating in some ways, though not in others.

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There were eunuchs castrated men and mukhannathun effeminate men to whom the rules of gender segregation did not apply: Eunuchs often acquired influential positions administering wealthy Muslim households. The mukhannathun were less respectable, with a reputation for frivolity and loucheness, though they seem to have been broadly tolerated during the earliest years of Islam.

A third type — the khuntha , who today would be called intersex — proved more complex theologically. The question this raised was what to do about children born with ambiguous genitalia since, according to the doctrine, they could not be sex-neutral. The issue then was how to discover it, and the jurists devised elaborate rules for doing so. In that connection, a remark attributed to the prophet about urine and the differing inheritance rules for men and women proved especially helpful.

On that basis, operations have been carried out in Sunni Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The case became public when Al-Azhar University refused to readmit her either as a male student or a female student. There were also many who found the concept of gender dysphoria difficult to grasp and some characterised her as a gay man who was trying to game the system. Basically, this left the question of surgery for gender dysphoria unresolved, allowing both supporters and opponents to interpret the fatwa as they chose. In practice, however, obtaining surgery is not necessarily the biggest hurdle — those who can afford it often go abroad.

Gaining social acceptance and official recognition of a change of sex subsequently can be more difficult. Theologically, Shia Iran seems to have fewer problems with gender dysphoria than the Sunni Arab states. There have been repeated claims that Iran now performs more reassignment operations than any country other than Thailand.

Although at first sight the Iranian approach to transgender might look remarkably liberal, it does have a darker side.

How the Middle East views the entire gender spectrum

One concern is that people may be pressurised into operations they do not actually want. Organised activism for gay rights began to develop in the Middle East in the early s. Both of those are based in Israel but have connections in the Palestinian territories. These are not the only activist groups.

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Gay Nepal: Interview with Kathmandu local boy Tilak - Nomadic Boys

How could I — a white, middle-class woman with no prior gang involvement — gain access to these gangs in the first place? It helped that the initial group of men whom I spoke to knew me from years earlier, when we became friends at a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth. They vouched for me to their friends.

But I also suspect that my own masculine presentation allowed them to feel more at ease; I speak directly, have very short hair and usually leave the house in plaid, slacks and Adidas shoes. While my race and gender did make for some awkward interactions some folks we encountered assumed I was a police officer or a business owner , with time I gained their trust, started getting introduced to more members and began to learn about how each type of gang presented its own set of challenges. The gay men in straight gangs I spoke with knew precisely what was expected of them: Being effeminate was a nonstarter; they were all careful to present a uniformly masculine persona, lest they lose status and respect.

Likewise, coming out was a huge risk. Being openly gay could threaten their status as well as their safety. Despite the dangers, some wanted to come out.

But a number of fears held them back. Would their fellow gang members start to distrust them? What if the other members got preoccupied about being sexually approached? So most stayed in the closet, continuing to project heterosexuality, while discreetly meeting other gay men in underground gay scenes or over the internet.

Everything you need to know about being gay in Muslim countries

As one man told me, he was glad cellphones had been invented because he could keep his private sexual life with men just that: One particularly striking story came from a member of a straight gang who made a date for sex over the internet, only to discover that it was two fellow gang members who had arranged the date with him. But they had more flexibility. In the hybrid gangs, members felt far more comfortable coming out than those in purely straight gangs. It was also more acceptable for them to project femininity, whether it was making flamboyant gestures, using effeminate mannerisms, or wearing certain styles of clothing, like skinny jeans.

They were still in a gang. We can brainstorm together. Hello Stefan, Great article and comments.

Pressure to act the part

I will be visiting Kathmandu in March. Is the Fire Club still meeting every Friday? Would love to know! This article was a really good read, and the comments are very interesting. It was amazing to walk proudly with so many people, and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting some of the organisers of Blue Diamond. It was a truly special day. I love my Nomadic boys, always giving great tips and informative interviews with locals.

Dear Sahil Shrestha, Soon i will visit nepal for the first time coming from europe. I would be happy to get some info from you about traveling in your beautiful country. So could you give me your facebook id or emailadres? Then i may chat with you directly. Thanks and regards Eric. It is hard to come out as gay in nepal because nepalese people still thinks that transgender and crossdresser are gays and gayism is a sin or psycological disorder. But it is great to know that nepal government is supporting gays. I too am a gay living in Kathmandu and i am too in my 20s.

I am sure they would be supportive as well. I have shared it to few of my friends and they have proven to be so supportive. I have yet to find a guy for me. Almost all of them are straight!!! Although people are starting to support a person being gay, many are still afraid or shy to come out.

There is also a misconception among people here that being gay means being a transgender. Hi Baibhav thanks so much for your message. This is awful to hear.

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What sort of laws does the constitution have in favour please? Well the states gay marriages legal. It was legalised before at the previous constitution. Sorry i seriously do not follow politics and changing constitution. But as far as i know gay marriage has been legalised. Even though gay marriage is legalised, i have not heard even one gay couple getting married.

They re very kind and welcome to you from their heart. Nepali Boys are cute and I make relationship with one of them. Would you say that teenage guys in Nepal probably have had at least fleeting gay experiences even if hetero.