When the "Forum" took place at UWS Bankstown, details of which can be found by clicking on the link below, we put up the web site with just Hanan Dover's "contribution on it. Last week an article by Bronwyn Winter in ON LINE opinion, link also below, awakened us to the fact that the story of that "Forum" had not yet finished. So we felt it necessary to place on this page all the information we have available which dates back to that dramatic time.
The first item comes from Hanan Dover's Article in SALAM Magazine, January-February 2002, and may well have been amongst the papers handed out at the Forum. Here it is - a special report:
Results of a Preliminary Australian Study on Muslim Attitudes towards Homosexuality and their Religious Orientations
Hanan Dover - University of Western Sydney - Psychology[SALAM Magazine, January-February 2002, http://www.zeta.org.au/~salam/]
The title of the study was: Homonegativity, religious orientations, and right- wing authoritarianism amongst Muslims. The motivation for such a study was not to reaffirm the already pervasive prejudicial view on Muslims and their attitudes towards certain issues, nor was the study just to merely add to the lack of data that exists among existing research on Muslim populations. The study was an inherent academic challenge to see how religious people of a conservative nature can adhere to certain moral values but still remain open- minded. However, the first part of this broad study focused on Muslim attitudes towards homosexuality, which has shown some surprising results. The study also measured Muslims on how they weighed up on conservative religious beliefs and right-wing authoritarianism. Eighty-two attendees from various Islamic lectures around Sydney volunteered to participate in the study.
Before such a study could be implemented university Ethics Committee approval was needed. According to the Human Ethics Committee, the study was deemed too “inflammatory" and was rejected several times. After more than nine months of planning and designing it was suggested that an “easier topic like drugs or alcohol or resort to changing the whole topic altogether" be chosen. This was despite the fact that other studies of a similar nature were conducted on Christians and Jewish populations. However, for some unknown reason, conducting this study on Muslims was too hot to handle for the Committee even when presented with Muslim community based support from scholars and community leaders, it was ironic that a study that looked at religion and prejudice was actually prejudiced against. However, after sheer determination, sanity prevailed with the Ethics Committee and the research was allowed to go ahead.
Background to research conducted on religion, prejudice, and homosexuality
Interest in the relationship between religion and prejudice makes up a great deal of the literature in the psychology of religion. One of the most significant and consistent findings is that highly religious individuals are prejudiced toward homosexuals. Considering most orthodox views on homosexuality, these findings may not seem so surprising. However, many psychologists tend to agree with Jackson and Hunsberger (1999) who argue that any negative attitude toward an out-group is considered prejudice no matter what the content of religious belief. However, the issue of prejudice may be more a moral adherence to a particular scripture rather than a prejudice based on faulty generalisation. Although research has been conducted mainly using Judeo-Christian populations, there was a serious shortage of empirical research on this topic among Muslim populations. Most Muslims would most probably defend their anti-homosexual attitudes on Islamic teachings and contend that these attitudes result from moral judgments and not from faulty or erroneous generalisations that are typical of prejudice.
Muslims, like Christians and Jews, consider the religious injunctions against homosexuality as the actual “words of God" and is not open to interpretation. It has been argued that religious people's negative sentiments that are limited to moral positions, or whose negative attitude toward homosexuality is equal to the other groups “condemned" in religious text (e.g. adulterers, liars) may show less prejudice than those whose negativity is founded on social concerns, generalised attitudes, and negative attitudes in excess towards the other “condemned" groups (Fulton, Gorsuch, Maynard, 1999).
Gorsuch (1993) has argued that the term prejudice, has been somewhat mishandled and misunderstood in the psychology of religion literature. He criticised the way in which the concept of “prejudice" is used in a prejudicial manner in research. With respect to prejudice against homosexuals, he argued that individuals who adhere to values viewing homosexual behaviour to be immoral should not be considered to be any more prejudiced than those who do not. Fulton et al's (1999) study showed that individuals with a moral position against homosexuality do reject homosexual behaviour to the same degree they reject bigots and gluttons, and where no special reference was made to homosexuality alone.
The problem with existing research is that when psychologists want to measure the amount of prejudice a religious population have against a particular group, attitudes toward homosexuality are always used as the variable to measure prejudice. Other minority groups like the elderly, the mehtally ill, or even measuring attitudes towards women are hardly ever used as variables measuring prejudice. Why? That's simple. The hidden agenda underlying most psychological research is to ascertain that Western values are universal and should be the norm where the world's population must follow suit in thought and behaviour.
Most research in psychology comes from the West and most, if not all, psychology departments around the world teach and practice according to an Americanised curriculum. Muslim countries, too, are passionate followers and admirers of Western psychological conceptualisations. They mistakenly think that employing and adopting their American theories on human behaviour is like importing new technology. Hence, the more psychological research the West conducts, the more their theories can be filtered into institutions around-the world. Therefore, American psychological theories become universal ones.
These are the questions that guided the first part of this enquiry as part of a postgraduate thesis in psychology:
1. What do Muslims think of homosexuality?
2. How conservative are Muslims in their religious belief?
3. Are Muslim right-wing authoritarian?
4. How do Muslims weigh up with the rest of the world religions and other Muslim populations?
5. How can we interpret these findings from a psychological standpoint?
Muslims Attitudes towards Homosexuality
The questions on the questionnaires as well as the percentages of respondents on how much they agreed or disagreed with the statements are presented in the Table below.
Statement: Homosexuals should not be allowed to work with childrenStrongly Agree (%) 50
Statement: Homosexuality is not a mental disorderStrongly Agree (%) 34.1
Statement: Homosexuals should have the same rights as heterosexualsStrongly Agree (%) 59.8
Statement: Homosexuals are immoralStrongly Agree (%) 54.9
Statement: People who support homosexual rights are probably homosexual themselvesStrongly Agree (%) 30.5
Statement: Homosexuals should be avoided whenever possibleStrongly Agree (%) 42.7
The results of the questionnaires were quite surprising in the sense that Muslims didn't generally know how Islam viewed homosexuality and this was clearly reflected in their ratings of the responses. The all-important question on whether “homosexuals are immoral" proved most surprising. While 70 percent of respondents agreed that homosexuals are immoral, 8.5 percent were undecided on the issue and 20.7 percent viewed them as moral. What is more revealing, is that the respondents were selected from amongst the most conservative of Muslims, those who attended Islamic lectures or Islamic classes. Hence, if these are the results obtained from the conservatively religious, imagine what would be the responses from the wider Muslim population. Also, most of the respondents in the study were in the 18-25 year-old age group.
This finding is an indication of how younger Muslims, through socialisation in the schools, universities and the media, have been desensitized into thinking that homosexuality has a hint of normality attached to it. Most Muslims today are not given the correct information, or if any, on the Islamic view of sexuality. A topic often-considered taboo, Islam however, views otherwise as the famous Prophetic saying states “there is no shyness in religion”. Muslims need to be educated about morals in sexuality to remove the notion endorsed in Australia's Temptation Island country where “anything goes".
The results showed that Muslims were not significantly anti-homosexual as was expected. One important note is the question as to why a group of highly conservative religious Muslims could also not score extremely high on anti- homosexual sentiment as homosexuality is clearly in contradiction to the teachings of Islam. This should be a warning to Muslim educators that we need to open up discussion on the issue of homosexuality for the youth to have a firm understanding on the Islamic perspective. Having primarily a Western view only seems to have lessened their disapproval of homosexual behaviour” a clear reflection of how the society 's attitude towards homosexuality is positively reinforced in the minds of Muslims. An Islamic perspective on the issue of sexual perversions outside the realms of the teaching of Islam need to be addressed to equip young Muslims with the right mechanisms needed to filter out what is being taught at schools and by the media, it must acknowledge that there is no logical, religious or even scientific explanation for the practice of homosexuality- it needs to be understood that homosexuality is an immoral practice that goes against what Allah had ordained. Whether homosexuality is biological in nature is not an issue.
Even so, the “gay gene" theory is a dead issue scientifically, as it does not exist under a microscope. There is no scientific evidence claiming that there is either a homosexual or heterosexual gene. If the homosexual gene existed, then we would find an adultery gene, a suicide gene, a heterosexual gene, an alcoholic gene;etc. Then we will remove any notion of free will and conscious choice and take on board the absurd belief that “my genes made me do it!"
Muslims on Conservative Religious Belief and Right-Wing Authoritarianism
An important and pleasant finding was that the Muslim participants were very conservative in their religious belief.
The respondents were so conservative, that their scores outweighed all previous research conducted around the world with different religious populations. This is a promising finding considering that despite living in a Western, non-Muslim society, Muslims are stiil able to hold firmly to their religious beliefs and worldview. The Muslim participants in this Australian study were reportedly more conservative in their religious belief than Muslims in Ghana and Canada (these two populations are the only two previous studies conducted on Muslims).
However, the results of this study may be attributed to sampling choice where the previous studies had chosen Muslim people at random whereas in this study the participants were taken from Islamic lectures that would tend to skew the conservative factor positively. But is it a bad finding? Definitely not where Islam is concerned. While conservatism will raise a smile from an Islamic viewpoint, it is frowned upon in this secular world- In the psychology literature, the more conservative or “fundamentalist” some like to call it, the more rigid and closed-minded you are. Even psychology has taken on board the word fundamentalist and tried to conceptualise the term in a psychological framework.
In current psychology, being a fundamentalist is not a good attribute. The term fundamentalist has been taken out of context and made to denote a negative stereotype among the religious. We must understand the deception used in terminology conveyed to elicit a negative stance against religion. Anyone who believes in anything, being it an ideology or religion, is essentially a fundamentalist by definition, If you are a scientist, you believe in the fundamental principles of science and you are therefore a scientific fundamentalist. If you are an atheist, then you would believe in the fundamental principles of atheism (hence, atheist fundamentalist). If you are a person who believes in the fundamental principles of democracy, well you are a democratic fundamentalist too.
But the big question lies in understanding why the term “fundamentalist" is only attributed to religious belief. Moreover, why is being a religious fundamentalist more negative to being an atheist fundamentalist, or a scientific fundamentalist? This is obviously intended by Western secular psychologists to promote their secular values as right, and anything that contradicts their ideology is essentially wrong- If one were to read the psychological literature on fundamentalism among the religious, nothing short of prejudice against religion in general is found. As for right-wing authoritarianism, the participants in the study were once again so authoritarian in their thinking that they outscored any other study ever conducted around the world. However, one needs to understand that the scales themselves are riddled with secular bias designed to include questions that would automatically put the religious population in the unpopular end of the scale. This is an example of a consensual bias amongst researchers that religion is a narrow-minded and closed form of thinking. Every researcher has their own philosophical bias, and their studies tend to reflect just that. The problem arises when no one challenges their biased conceptualisations and then they gain a certain following amongst researchers which only gives rise to their narrow-minded theories.
A Muslim person, or any religious person for that matter needs to take no longer than a glance at the questions of these supposed open-minded or right- wing authoritarian questionnaires and realise that it is the supporting of immoral values that gets the points for open-mindedness. The questionnaires measure authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conservatism, all of which correspond with certain religious values. Hence, the less conservative, less submissive to authority, and less aggressive in terms of authority, the more open-minded you are.
What the researchers have not realised which until today seems mind boggling is the fact that this line of questioning for open-mindedness certainly does not go beyond morality or religious issues. Are there no other issues, which these researchers could have asked in regards to open-mindedness, like the stance on technology or education which could have al least broadened this narrow-minded focus of theirs? But, moving outside morality as a case for open-mindedness would probably not tie into their prejudicial theories, which they are so desperate to hold on to. So what do we do about this? Do we hop onto their bandwagon of closed- mindedness or do we strive to revise their way of thinking? Certainly the latter is essential, as the whole conceptualisation of secular psychology needs a total shake up. This inshaAllah is what is intended in the next major part of this ongoing study that will hopefully challenge previous traditional notions of what constitutes open-mindedness. An Islamic Open-mindedness scale is in the making that will be the backbone to guide the study and challenge previous conceptualisations of religious people and their “supposed" closed minded mentality. Just a final note on homosexuality; There is a logical reason for everything and homosexuality defies both logic and reason.
Anyone wishing to take part or has an interest in the study can email me at: hrdover@yahoo. corn. au or hrdoverfgjhotmai!. corn SALAM Magazine, January-February 2002, http://www.zeta:org.au/~salam/ Home Page - Subscription - Related Sites - Selected Articles - Contents
Alex Day of the Canterbury Bankstown District Gay and Lesbian Social Group (CBD) attended the UWS Forum and made the following report:
Mission of Hope homophobic group professing homosexuality to be psychological and therefore reversible.
Islamic law, sex is permitted only after marriage. Marriage can only occur between a consenting male and female.
Speaker 1: Keysar Trad
Arguments against homosexuality:
At this stage a member of the audience protested at the graphic content of the speech and asked for Keysar to get to the point.
Speaker 2: Hanan DoverMain points:
As homosexual men do not act on their masculinity and are effeminate this part of their brain is not developed and their hypothalamus becomes small. The brains of the AIDS victims were diseased and this could have shrunk the hypothalamus.
Lesser known scientists repeated this study and did not get the same results as above.
And among his sings is that he created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find comfort in them, and he has placed between you affection and mercy.
Answered by speaker 1, 2 and Sheikh Shadi.
People are also homosexual by necessity i.e. put in prison segregated from opposite sex.
Rudy Vanderhart, President of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), was present at the UWS forum, and sent the following email to Hanan Dover:
Dear Hanan Dover,
My name is Rudy Vanderhart and I was present at your lecture on" Homosexuality – an Islamic, scientific and logical analysis"
I am the President of PFLAG Western Sydney Inc. (Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). PFLAG is a world wide organisation and we provide support and information to families with a gay or lesbian member.
1 was surprised to hear you say "there is no evidence about a gay gene and yet fail to mention that there is also no evidence of a heterosexual gene. I call this selective and dishonest.
You also said that being gay is the result of child molestation. This is false. There is no evidence that a child who has been sexually molested will become gay or lesbian.
It is obvious that in your research you did not speak to parents of gay people. We parents know how difficult it is for our sons and daughters to 'come out'. They fear their parents will reject them. Some parents do disown their child with often tragic consequences. Do you know that the suicide rate is very high for young gay people. This is very true in country areas where there is no place to hide and where "poofter bashing" is in fashion. In your research did you discover that in the Nazi concentration camps more than 50,000 gays were forced to wear a pink star and were tortured in the hope of changing their sexual orientation. This failed and most of them died. When you commenced your lecture you asked a loaded question. The question was "Do you think homosexuality is genetic?" For your information sexual orientation is not genetic but is given to you by birth. Some people are born heterosexual and some are born homosexual. Any doctor can tell you that is has something to do with chromosomes.
Being gay is not a choice.
As a Christian I do not sit in judgment. Our lord will take care of this hereafter. Our duty is to live according to our teachings and that is" Love thy neighbour and don't sit in judgment."
I feel that a lecturer in Psychology should be able to look beyond their own religious views. A lecture should be balanced and honest. It should be well researched and presented with the source of the research material stated so that listeners are able to refer to the sources quoted. I feel a lecture about religious issues should not be mixed up with scientific issues. I hope that you can organise a discussion about homosexuality with people from all walks of life participating.
Hanan Dover responded as follows:From; Hanan Dover [mailto:email@example.com]
I am actually glad you have put your view across as i really wanted to hear a response as I knew some pro-Gay reps were attending.
Firstly, yes, there is no gay gene and there is no hetero gene but I am sure I did say while I was talking about Dean Hamer’s gay gene research that if they found a gay gene, they would be able to locate a hetero gene. Let me ask you, if there was an incest gene, would you support your father and sister being intimate? I surely would not. The problem is the society has an elastic boundary of morality and no-one really thinks about what is right and what is wrong, what is ethical and what is unethical.
As a psychology lecturer I still think that i am fair as what makes my views wrong and others view right? We should be able to agree to disagree.
About confusing religion and psychology, I tell u something, it was not until second year psychology that I was first introduced to the psychology of religion as I thought that psychology was universal and the human mind would be easily comprehended and predictable. But modern psychology is bombarded with theories with no consensus. It was also, mechanistic in principle but I did love the science. I found that Islam, in its inherent Scriptures of 1500 actually encourages science and instructs every Muslim as a compulsory act to question the truth, rationalise the truth, and search for it. Which religion in its original scriptures does such a thing. And psychology is for humans, and a lot of humans are religious, so how can we be a people profession if we do not accommodate their beliefs? This is why we have more clinical labels, more psychologists, more psychiatric and mental health institutions, we cannot comprehend that people can be spiritual because we cannot see spirituality under a microscope.
Every psychologist has there own bias and i have attended a post-graduate class in addictive behaviours where the openly gay lecturer offends religion with no basis. I did attack homosexua1ity from an Islamic perspective where there is no basis for the behaviour in its Scriptures, and a scientific perspective where there is no such gene. I backed my self up with Islamic doctrines and the scientific research. At least I made the effort to talk about these issues and leading to a conclusion instead of just throwing inconclusive, non-justified non supportedaccusations about a personal opinion. Why is it when religion comes in, there is no room for it and any field of study. I chose Islamic psychology after being discontent with the reasoning of ‘science only’, scientific fundamentalism. I found a perspective in psychology that can combine both religion and science and what is wrong with that? It makes much more wholistic sense than one on its own. There is no separation between religion and science in Islam and this makes humane sense to me.
When i do teach I give most perpectives on the one issue and allow the students to decide for themselves...I encourage them to challenge theories and not to absorb for the sake of absorption what ever the lecturer says as they all have a mind to use. I do not preach in a psychology class as that would be biased. I have never even discussed Islam and psychology unless i was asked.
This seminar was for Muslims and the reason it was revolved around Islam and science is because Muslims have no problems in accepting science as its part of our scripture as i mentioned before. Islam is not about evil but compassion just like Chrisitianity, but both religions would agree that how can we condone behaviour that God outlawed. We show comapssion, yes, but dont condone the behaviour as the norm. While the parents in your organisations are help gays to come out and be accepted by their parents, why cant we do them same and accept they have those tendencies but try and get them to reverse the same-sex attraction. Again, what makes your method right and other methods wrong?
Prove to me that homosexuality is not by choice. And then prove to me that beastiality, incest, murder, anger, violence is not by choice. I never do deny tendencies but do we act on every tendency that arises...is there no boundary?
Yes, i do agree that the judgement will be left to God. But as a muslim I will not support injustice to God.
Yes, there is a huge suicide rate of youth struggling with sexuality... As a parent, i would not my child to take the easy way out and give way to his inner sexual desires with no self-control whether homo, bi, hetero,or pre-marital sex tendencies. This whole sexual identity confusion was not so great when i was growing up, but today, its become an idenetity crisis.
There are many theories to homosexual behaviour or same-sex attraction, child-molestation is not only one. Check out this website: http://www.narth.com/
Really, thanks for your comments, but we will be going in circles if we try to prove the other wrong. I do not mind if you require further contact.
On Friday 28 June 2002, representatives of the Canterbury-Bankstown District Gay & Lesbian Social Group (CBD), along with representatives from ACON West, PFLAG (Western Sydney) & South Western Sydney Area Health Service attended a lecture at UWS (Bankstown), entitled "Islam & Homosexuality, an Islamic, scientific and logical approach."
The content of this lecture was extremely homophobic.
Our organisation is deeply alarmed that such an event was permitted to occur in a place of public learning and social enquiry.
Some of our major concerns emanating from the lecture are:1. Sheik Shadi called for an Islamic court to be set up in Australia, which would give Muslims the power to stone Gay Men & Lesbians to death.
We are extremely fearful for the safety of all Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender people, especially those from an Islamic background.
Given that Hannan Dover is also a lecturer in Psychology at UWS (Bankstown), our group is also concerned about the learning environment as well as the fair treatment and assessment of any openly Gay or Pro Gay students in her classes.
We have written a letter to the Vice Chancellor of UWS, asking how Hannan Dover's attitudes and work practices towards this issue, fit in with the University's Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies.
The CBD has also written letters to our State and Federal members, as well as Canterbury & Bankstown City Councils, asking for their support and assistance in condemning the statements.
The CBD has also attempted liaisons with overseas Gay & Lesbian Muslim groups, (as yet to no avail), however we have contacted a few Pro Gay, Progressive Muslim Health Professionals and Social Workers in our area.
We hope to provide a forum in which to express our mutual concerns and assist in developing the strategies required to empower them.
Our organisation has a number of Muslim members. We have always been supportive of our Islamic members and their culture.
This will not change, in fact our resolve and our support will become stronger.
The CBD is seeking your support, cooperation and assistance in our campaign to ensure the safety and fair treatment of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender community.
Enclosed are copies of;
At this point of time the CBD has not attempted to make contact with any of the speakers or the organisations they represent, as we believe to do this, without a mediator, would be counter productive to any positive outcomes.
The Management Committee of the CBD hopes to provide an opportunity to discuss this matter in the near future. Should you be willing to be involved, please contact us as soon as possible.
Further to your request that the alumni survey sent be returned by 10 July 2002 I would advise that I sent it back as requested.
As a student at the University from 1993 to 1995 I was one of those who was against the sacking of Professor Maling and the forced amalgamation of the three organisations. As it is now a fait accompli there is obviously no point in labouring the issue any further, and I am obviously willing to support an alumni association although at this distance there is not much support I can offer.
However, I am writing to you on another issue which, as a graduate of a fairly new university, and one in which I originally had high hopes for the future, I was shocked to hear about.
As a gay man and one who has been actively involved in fighting for gay and lesbian rights at all levels of government and in all institutions, and a regular member for Lesbian and Gay Solidarity at the Anti-Discrimination Board's Gay and Lesbian Consultation meetings over a large number of years, I was shocked to hear of the forum organised by one of your lecturers at the Bankstown campus, on Friday 28 June 2002 entitled "Islam & Homosexuality, an Islamic, scientific and logical approach."
The lecturer who organised the forum was Hanan Dover, a lecturer in Psychology at UWS Bankstown. Copies of papers I have received - transcripts of the talks given at the forum were neither scientific nor logical, were an undisguised attack on gays and lesbians, and, worse, suggested that Australian law should not be observed and that homosexuals should be stoned to death, after the setting up of an Islamic court in Australia, as apparently taught in the Koran.
Would you please advise me that the matter has been brought to your attention and that the university is taking steps to ensure that incidents of this sort do not happen at the university again.
It is unconscionable that in these times when, after all the legislation which has been passed in most states and territories in Australia giving equal rights to its gay and lesbian citizens as to all other citizens, this sort of forum should be allowed to be conducted, and at a seat of higher learning, and by a lecturer in psychology. Gays and lesbians are still assaulted, murdered, vilified and discriminated against all over the country -just read the judgement in a recent bashing case in Melbourne and read the sentences passed on the people committing these heinous crimes - and you will see that homophobia of this sort has to be nipped in the bud.
The Vice Chancellor has asked me to respond to you with respect to your correspondence to her dated 14 August 2002. In that correspondence you raised concerns in relation to a forum that was conducted at the Bankstown campus on 28 June 2002 entitled "Islam and Homosexuality, an Islamic, scientific and logical approach".
The University has received a number of complaints in relation to that forum and has taken immediate and comprehensive action to ensure that the organisers and promoters of that event, where they are employees of the University, have been counselled and disciplined.
The University has sought to protect religious freedom however it has made it very clear to the participants that there is no place for homophobia, vilification, or discrimination on any campus of the University of Western Sydney. I have been requested to remind participants of their legal obligations to Australian law, in addition to the University's policy frameworks which support and promote this legislation.
The University has also sought to involve a senior member of the Islam faith in Sydney so that there can be no misunderstanding as to the University's approach is culturally sensitive and effective. While the event to which you refer was extremely regrettable in some of its content, it has provided an opportunity for the University to broker a greater understanding between members of the gay and lesbian community in Western Sydney and adherents to the Islamic faith. The University hopes that an ongoing dialogue will prevent future occurrences, however any such further incidents will meet with a swift response from the University.
Thank you for your correspondence, and please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this matter further. Your continuing interest in the University of Western Sydney is appreciated.
I wrote to the ABC on Friday 11 October 2002 about an item in a tv news bulletin.
This is my letter:
"In the ABC TV news bulletin at 7pm on Friday 11 October 2002, the Melbourne bulletin contained the news about the latest and last gang rape sentence passed in Sydney by Justice Finnane.
At the end of the item Keysar Trad was briefly interviewed.
Keysar Trad has previously stated. "To show people that we. like them, our fellow Australians, have the same high standards, and values and morals."
Is this the same Keysar Trad who called on political leaders and the media to unite in a bid to tackle the social problems which contribute to young people committing violent crimes (referring to the rape case just concluded)?
'Is this the same Keysar Trad whose name is the first on a petition saying "No war on Iraq"?
Is this the same Keysar Trad who recently spoke at a lecture at the University of Western Sydney Bankstown (28 June 2002)?
The lecture was entitled "Islam and Homosexuality, an Islamic, scientific and logical approach." and Keysar Trad was quoted at that meeting as rejecting the concept of Anti-Discrimination and Anti- Vilification legislation, urging Muslims to defy these laws.
Does Keysar Trad deserve any credibility after this conflict of interests?
I think not!"
On 16 October I received the following reply:
Thank you for your e-mail. I appreciate your sentiments but Mr Trad is a recognised spokesman for his community and is respected by them. As a consequence, we will continue to speak to him when comments from his community are required.
I then sent two messages in response - on 17 October, as follows:
Thank you for your reply. I will probably send my letter to you, and your response, to the gay media for their information. It is essential that they understand where homophobia is coming from in the community.
We will probably also include it in our next newsletter."
I forgot to mention, in my reply to your message, that I sent the same information as I sent to you to another ABC department some days ago because they had also used Keysar Trad in an interview. That department thanked me for letting them know about him and told me they didn't have that information until I gave it to them!
This was a somewhat different approach to the one you have adopted."
Homophobia is alive and well and living in an .ABC tv area near you!
Dear Mr Lane,
I am writing with reference to your article in The Sunday Age of 17 November 2002 under the heading "Cool it, and they will come round".
I am enclosing a series of papers which deal with correspondence relating to Keysar Trad and his stance on homosexuality, and his on-going interviews with papers in Australia as spokesperson for the Lebanese Muslim Association.
Your article addresses similar issues and you talk about your young days in South Australia amongst a German community there.
However, although one hopes that in the years to come the Muslim approach to homosexuality will change as more and more gay and lesbian Muslims gain the courage to come out and be supported by others in the gay and lesbian communities, the teachings of Keysar Trad and his like, ignorant and uninformed as they are, and purporting to be educated about homosexuality, do not offer hope for the future.
Homosexuals are still bashed and murdered in Australia at an alarming rate, and youth suicide, particularly in rural and regional areas, is often attributed to young people not being able to confide in anybody about their developing sexuality.
We are attempting to inform the media about Keysar Trad and his approaches to anti-discrimination, anti-vilification and related legislation in this country, and so far a few in sections of the media are beginning to take notice.
We hope you will attempt to bring some informed debate into this topic of homophobia and the attitude of the Keysar Trads in our society in the hope that we will be able to stop the continuing homophobia from all sections of our communities, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or any other religion or sect which preaches hatred of others to their congregations.
Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne.
Dear Mr Revell
I am writing to you because, despite being informed about Keysar Trad's approach to such issues as anti-discrimination and anti-vilification legislation, your newspaper continues to consult him and quote him as spokesperson for the Lebanese Muslim Association.
Your newspaper even ran a profile article on Keysar Trad.
It is well-known that the Sydney Morning Herald has held homophobic views in the past and for many years, despite the fact that the SMH has many gays and lesbians on its staff.
I am enclosing a series of papers from a lecture which was held at the University of Western Sydney Bankstown in June 2002, and the aftermath and some of the correspondence with relevant bodies subsequent to the lectures. Keysar Trad's paper at the lecture suggests that he is an expert on homosexuality, of which he claims he has made a detailed study.
The extreme approaches which Keysar Trad has to homosexuality, anti-discrimination and anti- vihfication would normally be sufficient for papers such as yours to be wary of using him as a spokesperson for the Lebanese Muslim community. He is assuredly not the only person who could be asked for their opinions on a whole range of issues which the SMH might canvass.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has interviewed Keysar Trad, both on radio and on television. We informed both sections of the ABC about Trad's approach to the topics mentioned above, and generally the radio stations provided us with positive feedback. The same could not, unfortunately, be said about television news producers, but we have not given up on them yet either.
We trust that you will remember that the states and territories in this country have legislation which, for the most part, gives equal rights to its lesbian and gay citizens as it does to its Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, atheist and other citizens, either believers or non-believers.
We trust that you will stop interviewing someone who states plainly that Muslims should reject anti- discrimination and anti-vilification laws, and should stone homosexuals to death, as called for in the Koran - as quoted by Keysar Trad.
Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne
I refer to your letter of 27 August 2002 in which you responded to my concerns about the Bankstown campus forum "Islam and Homosexuality, an Islamic, scientific and logical approach."
You invited me to contact you should I wish to discuss the matter further.
I am attaching an article of Hanan Dover's which was published in SALAM Magazine, January-February 2002, for your information.
It concerns me that the views expressed by Dover in the article are pushing the boundaries of Muslim homophobia to extremes, and that she is actively trying to teach such attitudes to young people who attend her psychology lectures as scientific approaches to homosexuality.
As a long-time gay activist and one who is aware of continuing hostility and homophobia to gays and lesbians in our communities, I am alarmed that the University of Western Sydney continues to employ Dover as a psychology lecturer who is thus licensed to espouse these views on an ongoing basis.
Those who commit gay hate crimes of bashings and murders often justify their assaults by quoting (or misquoting) the Bible or Koran to explain why they have done what they have done. They would be unable to use these same sources to justify modrn approaches to some of the other issues which these texts condemn, but which society today accepts as norms. Stoning miscreants to death is not acceptable in our societies, and people who preach such penalties ought to be stopped from doing so at our institutions of higher learning. I wish to know what steps the University of Western Sydney is taking to stop the continuing spread of homophobia in our society, and in particular, in its own faculties which teach psychology, philosophy and similar fields of the humanities.
Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity; Melbourne.
I refer to your correspondence dated 26 November 2002 in which you set out further concerns in relation to Ms Hanan Dover.
The article that you enclosed precedes the date of the University's investigation into the matter against Ms Dover. I attended one of the sessions with Ms Dover and there were constructive discussions in relation to the Australian discrimination legal frameworks. It is not correct to say that the University "licenses" any person to espouse hostile or homophobic views. As the University has indicated in previous correspondence, it views such behaviour and conduct seriously.
The University engages in regular professional development and training of its staff to promote social justice and legal compliance outcomes. Where problems are identified they are addressed through, where relevant, disciplinary provisions or specific training.
Thank you for drawing our attention to the SALAM Magazine article and for expressing your concerns to the University.Yours faithfully,
The following article appeared in The Age newspaper on 27 June 2008. It poses some very interesting questions as well as providing some illuminating answers as to the character of Keysar Trad, homophobe, anti-discrimination and anti-vilification advocate, and proponent of polygamy. Here is a hypothetical for Keysar to answer: assume you are allowed two or more wives. Assume further that they know each other and become good friends. Assume even further that at least two of them are lesbians and form attachments to each other! As someone who advocates stoning homosexuals to death or allowing walls to be collapsed onto them in order to kill them, would you be advocating this sort of death for the mothers of your children?
LISTENERS to Triple J's Hack program learned this week that some Muslims want Muslim men to have the right to marry more than one wife. Indeed some Muslim men, including Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association (whose members, I suspect, share the same surname and hold dinner meetings each night in the same home), have made serious attempts at it.
Really? Australians committing the offence of bigamy? Muslims wanting to introduce sharia into Australia? Is the dream of Camden's fundamentalist mayoral candidate (and comedic character on SBS's new talk show Salam Cafe) Uncle Sam coming true?
Then again, we are talking about Muslims. Even in Australia, the thinking goes, some traces of their weird Middle Eastern faith and culture must exist. And, as always, some of our media tend to jump on the pronouncements of self-styled Muslim "leaders" for clues about the secrets this allegedly non-integrating fifth-column is hiding from the rest of us.
It's no secret that at least one Muslim once wanted to marry a second wife. Back in October 2002, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Mrs Trad showing her selflessness by agreeing that her husband (the very same Keysar Trad) could marry a second woman. Of course, there was a catch to all this. According to the Herald story, Mrs Trad would refuse to remain Mrs Trad. And in the case of my own partner, I have no doubt that Mrs Yusuf would no longer remain Mrs Yusuf were I to try the same thing. I also have no doubt that she would also take steps to ensure her Mr Yusuf wouldn't be equipped to have any kids!
But just how common are polygamous marriages in Australia? What demand is there in Muslim circles for polygamous marriages to be registered under marriage laws? Are Muslims busy writing letters to their federal MPs clamouring for law reform in this area?
I have no answers to these questions. And neither does the Islamic Friendship Association or any other organisation claiming to speak for Muslims. Because, believe it or not, no Muslim religious body has ever bothered to conduct any survey or polling of the attitudes and opinions of those they claim to represent.
However, our closest neighbour might provide us with some clues about contemporary Muslim attitudes towards polygamy. In January 2006, I was fortunate enough to join four other Australian Muslims on an exchange program to Indonesia organised by the Australia-Indonesia Institute.
Our 14-day tour included a visit to a gorgeous city called Bandung. There we stayed at the Daarut Tauhid hostel next door to the family home of a man who was then Indonesia's most popular televangelist. Abdullah Gymnastiar (known affectionately to his followers as "Aa Gym") combines Sufi teaching with sound business practices. The son of an Indonesian general, his followers included generals, politicians and millions of young urban educated Indonesians. His message of "Manajemen Qulbu" (literally "heart management") proved far more popular than the rants of Abu Bakar Bashir.
Aa Gym had his own TV and radio stations. The Inside Indonesia website reported that major political parties were courting him to be their vice-presidential candidate for the 2009 presidential elections after polling showed Aa Gym having a whopping 91% approval. Aa Gym lived in a humble two-storey home with his wife and children. Some months after our delegation left Indonesia, and in true televangelist style, Aa Gym fell victim to a sex scandal. OK, it was a relatively halal sex scandal — Aa Gym decided, with his first wife's approval, to take on a second wife.
And the result? Aa Gym's empire crumbled. His spiritual retreats were boycotted. He lost lucrative TV contracts. A furious text message campaign led to President SBY announcing a review of national marriage laws that already place restrictions on polygamy. Today, I doubt whether even the Liberal Party of Australia (or its Indonesian equivalent) would consider appointing Aa Gym as its deputy leader.
So there you have it. In the world's largest Islamic nation and our closest neighbour, a popular Islamic icon becomes an overnight social and political outcast. Keysar, I'd tread carefully if I were you.
Why 'questioning secularism' destroys religious freedom - by Bronwyn Winter, 2 May 2008, ON LINE opinion
LESBIAN & GAY SOLIDARITY PAGE
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This page updated 25 APRIL 2012 and again on 17 NOVEMBER 2016