Juan Cole today clarifies al-Sistani’s stand on homosexuality. [I was one of those he refers to as having written him about the issue.] It seems that the claims that Sistani has advocated vigilante killings of gays are simply false. He does, however, condemn homosexuality and, in at least one instance, has urged the death penalty for homosexual activity.
A couple of excerpts:
“Let me begin by saying that the charge leveled by some, and mentioned at Pandagon, that Sistani has called for the killing of Sunnis, is completely untrue. The implication given by exiled gay Iraqi, Ali Hili, of the London-based gay human rights group OutRage, that Sistani has called for vigilante killings of gays, is untrue, though it is accurate that Sistani advises that the state make homosexual activity a capital crime; it is also accurate to call this “sick….””
“The first two fatwas he gave on the subject have to do with adult men penetrating boys. That is, Sistani appears to take as the connotation of lawat that it is an adult man penetrating an under-age boy. Unsurprisingly, he deeply disapproves. The first two fatwas, however, come in response to questions about what this sexual relationship means for later marital relations between the two families. Say a 21-year-old man from Khazraj had relations with a 17-year-old boy from Ruba’i? Then, say the first man’s family wanted to marry him off to a girl from the Ruba’i family. Can they? And to what degree of relatedness? Can he be the husband of his former lover’s sister? The answer is “no.” In contrast, Sistani would allow a man who had an affair with a girl to later on marry her sister….”
“A later fatwa insists that homosexual relations should be punished with the utmost severity, and urges the death penalty. Again, his assumption appears to be that the penetrated partner would likely be under-age, which may help explain his severity. His first two fatwas, however, assume that the punishment will actually be much less severe, even when one of the partners was under-age!”
The whole post is worth reading as it clarifies the historical context of homosexuality in the Islamic world.
March 19th, 2006