A woman participating in a gay Muslim march. [Reuters]
A mosque for gay Muslims is to open in France later this month, and its founder hopes to perform same-sex marriages at the venue.
Mohammed Ludovic Lütfi Zahed, who is originally from Algeria and lives in France, plans to open the special mosque on 30 November. The venue will initially be housed inside a Buddhist chapel.
Zahed, himself a homosexual, has decided to open such a place of worship as an alternative to conventional mosques, which can provide an intimidating atmosphere for gay men.
He told the Turkish newspaper Daily Hurriyet: "In normal mosques, women have to sit in the back seats and wear a headscarf and gay men are afraid of both verbal and physical aggression.
"After performing the Hajj, I realised that a mosque for gays was a must for gay Muslims who want to perform their prayers."
Zahed also admitted he initially suppressed his own homosexual feelings because of Islam.
"When I was 12 years old, I started exploring Islam and performing prayers. At first, I was impressed by the Salafists in Algeria, afterwards I became distant from them because of the terrorist attacks they performed. After my first night with a man, I realised that I was gay. I have found out that I had been pushing down my feelings with the help of Islam," said Zahed.
He also asserted that women and men will be able to pray together in the newly proposed mosque.
Only a few days ago, nearly 100,000 people across France took to the streets against the government's proposal to legalise same-sex marriages.
To contact the editor, e-mail: