A woman has opened up about how it is to be a lesbian and Muslim.
Zayna, 40, spoke to the Manchester Evening News to say she had been beaten, threatened and humiliated because she is gay.
She did not deny her true identity despite the abuse she had received before moving from Pakistan to the UK.
While studying for her PhD, Zayna said she was kicked out of university because fellow students said they thought she was “dangerous”. At an Islamic school, she said she was forced by fellow staff to leave or face police action. She had started a relationship with a fellow teacher. And the staff said they would be reported to police as prostitutes if they did not end their relationship and leave.
Of an incident where her father abused her for spending time with another teenager, she said: “My father came upstairs and wanted to kill me and beat me like anything. He told me how to behave. That was the first time I felt unsafe in my own home. I still have that horrible pain in my lower back and can’t walk properly.”
Zayna says she is still a practising Muslim and that her sexuality and her religion are both important to her.
She said: “I was born a Muslim and I want to die a Muslim. But if someone wants to kill me, then why? Just because I’m a lesbian? I am a strong brave person but so many people like me don’t have that courage. I realised I needed to come out and tell everyone about my story.”
She now lives in Manchester, UK, and speaks out on behalf of LGBT+ Muslims.
Zayna grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and her parents were conservative Muslims with no other children. Her parents are now deceased.
She describes herself as a tomboy, and says she realised she is gay when she turned 13. She says it was “very hard” and that she was told “you are not Muslim if you are a lesbian”.
Going on, she also says she thinks the Quran’s message about homosexuality has been misinterpreted. She now says she feels calm because she is able to have relationships without fear of persecution.