Holy Hatred

Published: October 1, 2000

Holy Hatred

Penalties for homosexuality are most extreme in Muslim countries. Anissa Hélie looks at what’s behind the current drive to control sexuality.

I was born and raised in Algiers, of a French father and an Algerian mother. Having access to both cultures made me realize early on that racism as well as sexism were all-pervasive on both sides of the Mediterranean. It took me a few more years to come to the conclusion that homophobia was just as widespread.

Amnesty International counts at least 83 countries where homosexuality is explicitly condemned in the criminal code.1 Twenty-six of these are Muslim. This means that the majority of Muslim countries, including supposedly ‘liberal’ ones like Tunisia as well as dictatorships like Sudan, outlaw same-sex relationships.

The seven countries in the world that carry the death penalty for persons presumed guilty of homosexual acts, justify this punishment with the Shari’a or standard interpretation of Muslim jurisprudence. Though not always applied, the existence of the death penalty makes sexual minorities extremely vulnerable.

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