A Canadian mother has been subjected to intense homophobic religious abuse after she celebrated her son’s same-sex marriage.
The controversy followed the marriage earlier this month between Ali Reza, a Vancouver Muslim man, and his husband Paul.
Reza’s family, including his mother Siddika, supported the union and attended the ceremony.
Others from their Shia Ithna-Asheri sect, sadly, were quick to condemn the “sinful” marriage.
An online petition was launched calling on Siddika to resign from her position as secretary general of NASIMCO (the Organisation of North American Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities).
“It is indisputable that the Secretary General, [Siddika], took part in the same-sex wedding of her son,” stated the petition (which has now been removed).
“Traditionally, a wedding is a public demonstration of a relationship,” said its creators. “This sin was not done in private, but rather was publicly celebrated and promoted. It goes against the legitimate majoritarian interpretations of Jaffari fiqh, which NASIMCO must uphold.”
The petition, which received over 1,000 signatures, as well as condemnation from other Islamic groups, led to Siddika’s resignation. The Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaats of Africa called the marriage a “despicable act which goes against the tenets of Islam”.
Siddika, however, went on to defend her son and his marriage in a powerful and heartbreaking open letter.
“My stance today is not just as a devoted mother but as a human being who has painfully observed how the community has usurped the rights of God’s creation in the name of Islam and passed judgement,” she said.
“For us this is about standing up for Ali’s God given right to live a life that would not be filled with the burden of religious guilt and compounded by communal scorn and societal shame.”
Siddika’s noted that this stigma leads many LGBT people to become marginalised and turn to drugs and even suicide.
“In moments of darkness, I realised that the only way for Ali to live an authentic life and not have to hide and fear rejection was to give him space to reach his human potential as God’s creation,” she wrote.
“I did this as a mother who carried Ali Reza in my womb for nine months and nurtured him. How could I as a Mother discriminate against my own Son and if my God is so just, then how could I not take on this value of Justice and act on it.”
She asked: “If Ali Reza was your son, what would you do?”
Last month, a gay couple in the English town of Walsall became the first in the UK to marry in traditional Islamic attire.