A recent Pew Research Center poll revealed that a majority of Muslim Americans, like most Americans, is accepting of homosexuality in 2017. It also revealed that white evangelicals are the most anti-LGBTQ religious group in the country.
According to the poll, 52 percent of Muslims surveyed were supportive of homosexuality within American society – nearly double the number of Muslims who were supportive 10 years ago. Meanwhile, only 34 percent of white evangelicals responded that they were supportive of same-sex relationships – up only about 11 percentage points from a decade ago. Overall, Pew found that 63 percent of Americans were supportive of same-sex relationships in the most recent poll.
The view of American Muslims is not surprising, given that homosexuality is not mentioned in the Quran and that homophobia within some communities is more cultural and based on learned behavior than it is based on religion.
Why is this data important? Well, President Donald J. Trump’s administration has fueled the rhetoric that Muslims are not accepting of LGBTQ rights. In fact, in his first Muslim ban executive order targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, one of the justifications used for banning Muslims was that the United States should not admit people “who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Although the same language doesn’t appear in the Muslim ban 2.0 order, Trump has expressed support for going back to the original, less “politically correct” Muslim ban.
While attempting two discriminatory Muslim bans in the name of only allowing “tolerant” people into the country, Trump and his administration were busy currying favor with his evangelical base within the Religious Right – a group that is trying to use religion as an excuse to roll back LGBTQ rights.
Muslims, like most Americans, are accepting of the LGBTQ community.
When Trump was campaigning, he promised to sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), legislation that would allow individuals, businesses, taxpayer-funded social service providers and government employees to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex couples. He chose Mike Pence, who signed Indiana’s anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” law when he was governor, as his vice president, and he has appointed LGBTQ-equality foes like Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.
More recently, Trump nominated anti-LGBTQ Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as ambassador at large for international religious freedom. Brownback has attempted to fight the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling for marriage equality and has openly supported using religion to discriminate against LGBTQ people, among other troubling views relating to religious freedom.
So it’s ironic that the Trump would use inaccurate representations of Muslim views on LGBTQ equality to justify the Muslim ban given the less than tolerant views amid his own administration. This poll reveals the hypocrisy of singling out this religious group to justify discrimination, making them more marginalized and susceptible to hate and harassment.
While homophobia certainly exists in many countries and religious groups – particularly within fundamentalist factions – Pew’s poll disputes Islamophobic rhetoric that Muslim communities aren’t socially progressive.
You can read about AU’s involvement in the fight against the un-American, unconstitutional Muslim ban here. And through our Protect Thy Neighbor project, you can learn more about our efforts to prevent religion from being used as an excuse to harm others.