Over Labor Day weekend, HRC joined over 15,000 Muslims from across U.S. and Canada to kick off the 53rd Annual Convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in Chicago, the largest annual gathering of Muslims on the continent.
This year’s theme was, “Turning Points: Navigating Challenges, Seizing Opportunities,” which largely centered on the issues facing millions of Muslims amidst challenging political times.
With an impressive number of keynotes, workshops, debates, research presentations, this year’s convention, for the first time, featured a panel discussion on “Lead the Conversation: Addressing LGBTQ Issues,” an event hosted by the Muslim Youth of North America, the youth arm of ISNA.
Last year, HRC highlighted the notable absence of LGBTQ issues at past ISNA conventions. This year’s panel discussion on LGBTQ issues, and not “homosexuality,” is a positive development for LGBTQ people. It marks the first of hopefully many ISNA discussions focusing specifically on LGBTQ people, who are part of the fabric of the American Muslim community.
The room drew a large crowd. Over 150 students, parents and educators came to listen to renowned panelists and Islamic scholars Shaykh Yasir Qadhi and Shaykha Muslema Purmul. The conversation primarily focused on the balance between empathy for LGBTQ people and religious restrictions placed on sexual orientation and gender identity. Last year, HRC released Coming Home to Islam and to Self, a guide to help LGBTQ and allied Muslims who are seeking to reconnect with their faith and build more inclusive Ummah (Muslim community).
Shaykh Qadhi, who is one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam, also noted the LGBTQ community’s steadfast support of the American Muslim community and the consequent difficulty Muslim leaders are placed in with respect to LGBTQ equality.
But after the Orlando shooting, both Qadhi and Purmul added their named to the Orlando Statement, a historic document signed by over 200 Islamic scholars, clerics and community leaders condemning the Orlando shooting. They were both personally thanked on behalf of HRC after the panel discussion ended.
A day after the tragic shooting in Orlando, HRC joined over 60 organizations in a Muslim-LGBTQ Unity Statement. In July, HRC Foundation co-sponsored an event in Los Angeles focusing on the anti-Islam backlash following the Orlando tragedy, anti-LGBTQ prejudice, and how the two systems of oppression are intertwined.
HRC is committed to working with our Muslim allies, partners, members, and supporters to combat both anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim bigotry. For more information about our work, visit www.hrc.org/muslim.