Last week, we ran an opinion piece called “What it’s like to be gay and Qatari.” Written by a Qatari man who we called Majid, it described the challenges of being gay in Qatar, and pleaded for tolerance.
The article sparked a great deal of debate, with strong feelings being voiced on both sides. Many Qataris took to social media to say that they felt it was inappropriate for Majid to share his views so openly. Jassim Al-Maadadi was among them, and here he explains why.
Let me preface this by saying that what I write represents my own opinion and I only speak on behalf of myself. I expect a number of people will agree with me, and others will not.
“Majid” expressed his confusion regarding the hate and homophobic sentiment he experiences in Qatar, but I would like to remind him about the culture which he is a part of, the religion which he represents, and the country which he is from.
Qatar is a Muslim country, and in it homosexuality is not tolerated.
Regardless of the number of Qatari homosexuals that exist, the fundamental truth of the matter is that whether he is just one of a million Qatari homosexuals, a million wrongs will not make a right.
We must not contradict our culture and religion
My above statement inherently assumes that homosexuality is wrong. Is it?
As far as our religion is concerned – as per my understanding yes, homosexuality is wrong, and as long as we continue to be Muslim, this assumption will continue to be correct.
One might bring up the “to each his own” argument, to insist that every person has a right to practice his religion how he likes and be free to choose his or her sexual preference.
This is an incorrect misconception.
Every Muslim Qatari represents his country and his religion to the world, and he has the moral responsibility and obligation to do so in a manner that does not contradict the culture and religion that he is part of.
A can of worms
It is also wrong, in my opinion, for the topic of homosexuality in Qatar to be discussed in an article by a news outlet such as Doha News.
I believe that talking about it in the media brings legitimacy, be it directly or indirectly, to a topic that is considered by the law and religion of this country to be illegitimate.
Discussing this topic in public introduces a gray area on the matter that essentially does not exist. As I have mentioned before, there is no gray area in Qatar’s view on homosexuality.
So why am I writing this?
Well, since it has been brought up, there is a moral obligation for me as a Muslim – and as a member of a society who is against homosexuality – to oppose this article and this idea.
You have already opened this can of worms, and I’m here to try to close it.
Majid said that he didn’t choose to be gay.
I am not in the position to definitively say that being gay is a choice or something out of a person’s control, but in my opinion, I believe that it is a combination of the two.
Some people do it because they want to adhere to a western trend that has been celebrated by western media in recent years, while others might not have a choice.
In the case of the latter, I believe that it is something psychological and that it should be medically treated.
It is not up to society to manage this issue. It is up to the individuals who are suffering to have the religious responsibility to seek medical help.
I also believe that many families are failing to prevent their children from being exposed to homosexuality.
With the presence of the internet, learning about things like this is just a click away.
I do not mean that children should have limited exposure to the internet, but rather that it should be a controlled exposure under the supervision of their parents, who can advise them on what is right and what is wrong.
I do not believe that children will automatically become gay once they learn about homosexuality.
However, I think that if they do find out about it at a young age, they may begin to sympathize with it. This could then have an effect on their personality.
I know that many societies around the world have different views about homosexuality. I am not an insular person. I have lived in the US, Europe and Asia.
However, my experiences living abroad have not changed my opinion of homosexuality. I tried to stay away from gay people when possible.
With that said, when I lived in those countries, I lived in societies where homosexuality was accepted. So I had to live by their rules, and not intervene.
However, since Majid’s article referred to Qatar, I do feel like I have a moral obligation to speak out.
I fully expect foreigners visiting and living in Qatar to respect its culture and religion on this issue, the same way I did when I lived in their countries.
I don’t think that is too much to ask.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Doha News’ editorial policy.