A leading Muslim academic has said there is evidence in the Koran that homosexuality can be compatible with Islam.
In an interview with the Times, Dr Amanullah De Sondy, 29, said that despite the evidence, conservative Muslims will not accept homosexuality as they are “deeply homophobic”.
De Sondy, who holds a teaching position at the School of Divinity in Glasgow University, said: “Homosexuality is not incompatible with Islam. The two can and have coexisted. The important thing is to link it with living a good life and creating a good society.
“If you ask them privately, the vast majority of my generation of Muslims are deeply homophobic. I think it is particularly entrenched because so many Muslim societies are rooted in traditional ideas of the family and patriarchy.”
On the story of the destruction of Sodom, which appears in both the Koran and the Bible, he said: “It is often said to illustrate God’s disapproval of homosexuality. But on closer inspection it is about his disapproval of the rape of young boys. There is a big difference.”
De Sondy claims that one Muslim saint was said to have had a gay relationship: “In the 16th-century Punjab, there lived a Sufi [Muslim mystic] saint and poet called Shah Hussain. He fell in love with a Hindu boy. They lived together and are buried in the same tomb. But some people want to rewrite history, saying the boy was in fact a girl.”
In May, a survey suggested that UK Muslims have significantly less tolerance for homosexuality than their French and German counterparts.
The poll, part of the the Gallup Coexist Index 2009, found that not one of the 1,001 British Muslims interviewed believed homosexual acts were morally acceptable.
Fifty-eight per cent of the general British public said they thought homosexuality was not morally wrong, compared with 68 per cent of Germans.
French respondents were the most liberal, with 78 per cent of the general public saying it was not morally wrong. According to the survey, the opinions of Christians differed little from the views of the general public.
In comparison to British Muslims, 35 per cent of French Muslims and 19 per cent of German Muslims did not have moral objections to homosexual acts.
The survey also showed that British Muslims hold more conservative opinions towards abortion, viewing pornography, suicide and sex outside marriage than European Muslims, with markedly lower rates of thinking such issues are morally acceptable.