A mosque that will specifically cater to gay and female Muslims is set to open in Paris at the end of November, announced the association of Homosexual Muslims in France (HM2F) this week.
Founder Ludovic Lütfi Zahed, who is both gay and Muslim, said the progressive space will allow women and men to pray together and will soon perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
"In normal mosques, women have to sit in the back seats and wear a headscarf and gay men are afraid of both verbal and physical aggression," said Zahed to Turkish news site the Daily Hürriyet. "After performing the Hajj, I realized that a mosque for gays was a must for gay Muslims who want to perform their prayers."
The first gay man married in a Muslim ceremony in France, Zahed is an Algerian student writing his doctoral thesis on Islam and homosexuality in Paris. His first book, "The Koran and the Flesh," was published in March. After a long struggle with his identity, which included experimentation with Buddhism, Zahed made a pilgrimage to Mecca and rediscovered his religion, he said in an interview with France24.
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"Current Islamic ethics condemns this sexual orientation, but in fact nothing in Islam or the Quran forbids homosexuality," Zahed said. "Indeed, for centuries, Muslims did not consider homosexuality to be the supreme abomination that they do today."
Zahed founded HM2F in 2010. The organization has over 300 members and hosted a conference for LGBT and progressive Muslims in Paris earlier this month.
The new mosque will begin operations in a Buddhist temple in Paris, according to Gay Star News, and will be a place that can accommodate 21st century Muslims who feel put off by the anti-gay, misogynist and intolerant forms of Islam.
"Many Muslims simply feel they can’t have an open dialogue, let alone consult the imam without fearing condemnation," Zahed said to GSN. "This is why such mosques, which have been already set up by Muslims for Progressive Values, are increasingly in demand in North America and why I believe this will be the case in France."
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France does not legally recognize same-sex marriage, although President Francois Hollande has promised to overturn a law banning marriage and adoption. Tens of thousands of people across France protested against the president's stance last weekend.
"I am sure that if the Prophet Mohamad was still alive, he would marry gay couples," said Zahed, who married his husband in February, to France24.
For more of GlobalPost's coverage of LGBT rights around the world, check out our Special Report "The Rainbow Struggle: A Global Battle Over Gay Rights."