IMSD Condemns 'Demonisation’ of Sexual Minorities by Kerala’s Right Wing Muslims
New Delhi: The Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) has, in a statement, strongly condemned the “concerted effort by the Muslim right wing in Kerala” to ridicule, vilify, denigrate and demonise Muslims who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
IMSD, which is a forum of Indian Muslims committed to the values of democracy, secularism, equality and justice, released a press statement saying that while the minority Muslim community in India is itself the target of rampant Islamophobia, the conservatives among them are hurling hate speech at the sexual minorities (minority within the minority).
The latest trigger for the fulminations is the news last month of a transgender couple from Kerala- Zahad Fazil, a trans man and Ziya Payal, a trans woman – having decided to be biological parents of a baby. The couple reportedly took this decision because adoption is not an option for transgender persons.
On February 13, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader MK Muneer said that those who believe that a trans man gave birth to a child were “living in a fool’s paradise” and that the gender identity of the trans man was “hollow”. “The person who gave birth to a baby was actually a woman, although she had removed her breasts to look like a man. The presence of a womb in the person who gave birth to the baby proves that it was actually a woman,” was his exact statement.
The rise in hate speech by members of certain Islamic groups in recent months in Kerala has made Muslim queer persons in the state especially vulnerable. According to a report in The News Minute, In January of this year, IUML leader KM Shaji called the LGBTQIA+ community a “shame” and the “worst kind of people”.
According to a Mathrubhumi report, he had said that while the word LGBTQ sounds like “something important, those are bad activities (thallippoli pani). They are the worst humans. They are projecting it as colourful, but the term itself is dangerous, it creates anarchy in society. Deciding one’s gender after growing up is just silly.”
In December 2022, senior Muslim League leader Abdurahiman Randathani made a comment about gender-neutral classrooms and sex education in schools. He claimed that male and female students were made to sit together in school and were being taught about masturbation and homosexuality.
In July 2022, a class was held for the students of Thrissur Medical College Hospital by a Muslim group about gender politics and the LGBTQIA+ community. While this may seem a progressive class given the topic, the class was actually conducted by groups that are notable for their homophobic, transphobic and queerphobic stands. Ironically, the organisers used a sheet to separate the men and women who attended the class.
A month before that, in June, Jamaat-e-Islami conducted an online seminar in which a neuro physiotherapist compared homosexuality to paedophilia, and claimed that transgender persons are mentally ill.
Following is the press release by IMSD:
IMSD deplores the demonisation of sexual minorities by Kerala’s rightwing Muslims
Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) strongly condemns the concerted effort by the Muslim rightwing in Kerala -- including leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), and some Muslim-run websites -- to ridicule, vilify, denigrate and demonise Muslims who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
It is a tragic irony that while the minority Muslim community in India is itself the target of rampant Islamophobia, the conservatives among them are hurling hate speech at the sexual minorities (minority within the minority). What logic or ethics makes Islamophobia wrong but homophobia, queerphobia or transphobia right? Not surprisingly, the Muslim right has much in common with the Hindu right.
The latest trigger for the fulminations is the news last month of a transgender couple from Kerala -- Zahad Fazil, a trans man and Ziya Payal, a trans woman – having decided to be biological parents of a baby. The couple reportedly took this decision because adoption is not an option for transgender persons.
What perhaps added to the fervour of the self-appointed custodians of morality is the fact that Kerala’s health minister Veena George promptly congratulated the couple on the phone and directed the Kozhikode Medical College to provide all treatment for free. She also arranged for breast milk to be provided to the baby from the human milk bank.
Being targets of hate politics themselves, Muslims should know the difference between free speech and hate speech. Comparing homosexuality to paedophilia, targeting members of the LGBTQIA+ community with words and expressions such as “a shame”, “mentally ill”, “worst kind of people”, “people in need of treatment” etc. are hate speech, not free speech.
The very Constitution which guarantees to Muslims the right to freely profess, practice and propagate their faith cannot but also guarantee to sexual minorities their right to publicly proclaim their presence, hold a Pride Parade.
The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) begins with the recognition “of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family…” So says the Constitution of India too.
Even as the humiliated, bruised and battered Indian Muslim community struggles for its own right to a dignified life, it must learn to respect and uphold the “right to dignity” of all citizens.
1. A. J. Jawad, Co-convener IMSD, Lawyer, Chennai
2. Aarif Kapadia, IMSD, businessman, Mumbra
3. Aftab Ahmed Khan, Journalist, Nasik
4. Feroze Mithiborwala, Co-convener IMSD, Mumbai
5. Gauhar Raza, ANHAD, Poet, Scientist, Delhi
6. Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, Islamic Scholar, Writer, Translator, New Delhi
7. Irfan Engineer, Co-convener IMSD, SSSC, Mumbai
8. Javed Akhtar, IMSD, Poet, Lyricist, former MP, Mumbai
9. Kasim Sait, IMSD, Businessman, Chennai
10. Khadija Farouqui, IMSD, Delhi
11. Lara Jesani, Lawyer, PUCL, Mumbai
12. Masooma Ranalvi, IMSD, We Speak Out, Delhi
13. Mohammed Imran, PIO, USA
14. Muniza Khan, IMSD, CJP. Varanasi
15. Najid Hussain, Water Scientist, PIO, USA
16. Naseeruddin Shah, Actor, Mumbai
17. Nasreen Contractor, Co-convener IMSD, Mumbai
18. Nasreen Fazelbhoy, IMSD, Mumbai
19. Neelima Sharma, Theatre person, Delhi
20. (Dr) Ram Puniyani, IMSD, Author, Social Activist, Mumbai
21. Rashida Tapadar, Academic, Activist, Nagaland
22. Ratna Pathak, Actor, Mumbai
23. Taizoon Khorakiwala, Businessman, Philanthropist, NRI
24. Sabah Khan, IMSD, Parcham, Mumbai
25. Saif Mahmood, IMSD, Supreme Court Lawyer, Delhi
26. Saleem Saboowala, Activist, Mumbai
27. Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi
28. Shafaat Khan, Writer, Mumbai
29. (Dr) Shahnawaz Alam, Associate Professor, UP
30. Shama Zaidi, IMSD, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
31. Shamsul Islam, Author, Delhi
32. Simantini Dhuru, Documentary Filmmaker, Mumbai
33. Sohail Hashmi, SAHMAT, Delhi
34. Sultan Shahin, Editor-in-chief & Publisher, New Age Islam, Delhi
35. Teesta Setalvad, IMSD, CJP, Mumbai
36. Yash Paranjpe, Activist, Mumbai
37. Zakia Soman, BMMA, Delhi/Gujarat
38. Zeenat Shaukatali, IMSD, Islamic Scholar, Wisdom Foundation
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