Today: Don't condemn gays: Moderate scholars (March 29)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Don't condemn gays: Moderate scholars

Weekend • March 29, 2008

JAKARTA — Moderate Muslim scholars said there were no reasons to
reject homosexuality under Islam, and that the condemnation of
homosexuals by mainstream ulema and many other Muslims was based on
narrow-minded interpretations of Islamic teachings, Indonesian press
reported yesterday.

Citing the Quran, Ms Siti Musdah Mulia of the Indonesia Conference of
Religions and Peace said one of the blessings for human beings was
that all men and women are equal, regardless of ethnicity, wealth,
social positions or even sexual orientation, the Jakarta Post said.

"There is no difference between lesbians and non-lesbians. In the eyes
of God, people are valued based on their piety," Ms Siti was quoted by
the news daily as saying.

Speaking before a discussion organised by non-governmental
organisation Arus Pelangi, she said homosexuality was from God and
should be considered natural.

Other speakers said the magnificence of Islam was that it could be
blended and integrated into local culture. "In fact, Indonesia's
culture has accepted homosexuality," Arus Pelangi head Rido Triawan
was quoted by the Post as saying. "In Ponorogo (East Java), there has
been acknowledgement of homosexuality."

Meanwhile, two conservative Muslim groups — the Indonesian Ulema
Council (MUI) and the Hizbut Thahir Indonesia (HTI) — have voiced
condemnation of homosexuality, the news daily said.

"We will not consider homosexuals enemies but we will make them aware
that what they are doing is wrong," MUI's deputy chairman Amir
Syarifuddin told the Post.

HTI's Rokhmat has several times asked homosexuals to repent and
gradually return to the right path, said the news daily.