calem - islam & inclusivity
CALEM PUBLICATIONS - learn more about our work (click here)
We shall all be united; we do need each others. We do need the help of each and every queer Muslim organization.
Our European sister organizations ought to feel fully integrated as full founder members. No organization will be able to withdrawn a better benefit than her sisters, otherwise this project shall be doomed.
Each organization ought to stay free; nobody has to take the lead upon others. To be in peace, networks ought to be built on common progressive Muslim values, trust, transparency and true sister-brotherhood. Thank you for your very wise advices and participation.
May Allah be with us all in our glorious projects!
BACK TOP PAGE
Co-editor of the PAI (ILGA AFRICA) constitution at the 2014 conference.
CALEM 2012 main colloquium was sustained by the European Council
CALEM is founder member of the INIMuslim networking program
CALEM received the 2012 Pierre Guénin price* against homophobia.
*A price given by SOS homophobia
CALEM representative is founder member of the GIN-SOGI interfaith international LGBT network (thanks to the sponsors sustaining GIN-SOGI)
The overall context of discrimination towards LGBTQIA minorities is bad, even worrying; nevertheless, we shall be part of the ongoing positive changes, for things to get better.
Indeed, in seven Muslim countries, individuals belonging to an LGBTQIA minority may even be arrested and sentenced to death. Today several countries in Africa and the Middle East that were once very tolerant, especially towards all minorities, within an Arab-Islamic world regarded for centuries as a relative haven, seem inclined to tighten their laws.
The actions of our associations can help to act against the rise of homophobia and discrimination through the empowerment of Muslims belonging to an LGBTQIA minority and by informing efficiently, through relevant and targeted information and training, inclusive and progressive Muslims who condemn dehumanization and sustain what is fundamentally the expression of human diversity.
Besides, we can recall the latest twists on the international scene:
- UN: removal of the term "sexual orientation" from the international human rights texts - the U.S. has not voted.
- Middle East: the seven countries in the world which condemn homosexuals to death are Muslim countries.
- Africa: several Muslim countries – or countries where Islam has its say - are hardening totalitarian laws towards LGBTQIA minorities - Morocco, Cameroon, Uganda, etc.
- Asia: a certain tolerance, sometimes a proactive acceptance for example in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, where there are even mosques for homosexuals.
- Europe: slow progress according to the IGLA – International Gay and Lesbian Association - with even some who call themselves defenders of sexual minorities against the "Muslim Youth" - which would be, according to them, inherently homophobic and violent against LGBTQIA people (former minister of education and for LGBTQIA minorities at the opening speech of the ILGA conference - Netherlands, 28 October, 2010 - The Hague).
- United Nations Adopts Groundbreaking Resolution Affirming that LGBT Rights are Human Rights.
- UN council vote grants consultative status to ILGA – International Gay & Lesbian Association.
Therefore, it is a serious situation for LGBTQIA Muslim minorities who find themselves caught between the hammer and the anvil - Islamophobia and homophobia. This happens even here in Europe, where countries often have governments now openly Islamophobic (as in the Netherlands with the alliance of a right-wing party with the “anti Islam” party of Mr. Wilders).
Indeed, not only does this stigmatize all Muslims as inherently homophobic and violent towards LGBTQIA minorities. As Muslims, this is unacceptable for us. Moreover, this view cannot help to move forward on issues concerning LGBTQIA individuals’ civil rights. Islam is used as an excuse, not to mention the real issue: the lack of total and proactive acceptance of individuals belonging de facto to a sexual minority.
Nevertheless, we believe that it is getting better for LGBTQIA Muslim minorities; and we shall be a part of that positive process. We do not seek extraordinary rights, but simply respect for our fundamental human rights; LGBTQIA rights are human rights.
for over 15 years, what is calem?
CALEM is a confederation of LGBTQIA, Euro-African or Muslim organizations, which works for human rights and toward sexual and gender diversity within Islam. CALEM is a secular, progressive and nonpolitical organization, free from any political party, financial sponsor, from any kind of ideology and not submitted to any kind of absolute religious authority. Our aim is to sustain - in their empowerment and liberation process - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender individuals that are Muslims or come from a Muslim background. Calem in Arabic, is the tool we use to acquire knowledge and write Destiny. Knowledge and cooperation are the tools we shall use to make us free.
The aim of the CALEM is to enable inclusive Muslims, and particularly those who happen to be LGBT individuals, to express their sexuality in peace, while defending their civic rights and human dignity through ideas and appeased dialogue. The second main goal of this confederation is to contribute to the appeasement of the image that Muslims themselves have of their religion - and of their culture generally speaking -, by actively participating to the elaboration of a genuinely inclusive representation of Islam. The third main goal of the conference is to communicate the work done by members of the CALEM confederation, and to set up positive and constructive dialogue about Islam, within the Muslim world at large and wherever Islam has it say. Our actions are more than ever needed.
In a time when the LGBT communities all over the world increasingly are organizing themselves, demanding the public space to exist, to meet and to find protection under the law, the forces against these rights are being mobilized. This is happening both at a national and international level. These forces claim to justify their fight with religious and customary laws, arguing that sexual and gender diversity is a foreign and evil societal import. The irony is that it is often religious movements from outside pushing national politicians and religious leaders to make the already existing laws against women & LGBT vulnerable individuals even more severe, like death penalty or life imprisonment.
We remember that the CALEM dynamic begun around fifteen years ago (around 2000) with the first support group for HIV positive young vulnerable individuals in France; then with a humanitarian world tour to enquire about vulnerable young adolescents living with HIV; finally with the Homosexual Muslims’ citizen network., we had spread our universaly inclusive interconnectedness throughout the entire Europe, and even further away with partners and sister organizations all around the world.
Since 2010, the special area of expertise of our international CALEM inter-organizational dynamic is the ability to underpin the human rights approach, to LGBT issues in particular, with theological evidences. We address religion-based challenges to our human rights with theological arguments and the capacity for religious dialogue from within Islam, counteracting dogma, superstitions and bigotry. In this situation there is a strong need for LGBT people from a Muslim background to find refuge in an international shelter and training center where they could come together to share experiences of dialogue with religious leaders, both failures and successes, to build international solidarity, to strengthen our identities both as LGBT people and believers, and to welcome more and more numerous refugees especially those coming from Middle East and Africa, fleeing stronger homophobia and transphobia in their countries.
Since late 2013 our dynamic, after being founded on the initiative of the European citizen network called HM2F, is now coordinated from South Africa by the officially registered international organization named CALEM. Indeed, after our main colloquium in Paris in 2012, our interconnected sister organizations within the CALEM confederation pushed forward the fact that welcoming and training vulnerable women & LGBT individuals from a Muslim background, especially those fleeing homophobia, transphobia and patriarchy in their country, is becoming for all of us a heavy burden we do not have the financial nor the logistical means to deal with. Two years later our confederation CALEM is about to fulfill a long term project, through a self-sustainable dynamic.
 Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersexual, asexual.
 As often as possible we will use that terminology putting forward the fact that these individuals need our support, to make sure not to use a terminology perceived in Africans countries as to invasive, avoiding as far as possible to put individuals in social categories they do not accept in the public sphere.
training of trainers , NGO leaders, vulnerable individuals in AFRica, mena (middle east north africa) & europe
The CALEM conference long-term goal is to contribute actively, always in a peaceful manner, to the development of a new representation of human sexuality among Muslims. This intellectual endeavor is related to the Islamic liberation theology currents of thought that our organizations support as a kind of avant-garde.
This allows LGBTQIA Muslims to free themselves from prejudices and direct or indirect violence. Participants to the conference will return home to train LGBTQIA individuals around them and have access to publications on the subject, available on the CALEM conference’s website – www.calem.eu.
The CALEM conference potentially concerns a wide and diverse public in search of training in relation to sexual and gender diversity within Islam. These exclusive trainings are given by international specialists at the forefront of this kind of social evolution. The CALEM conference might be of interest for:
- Young African and European citizens that are interested in these issues (average age at the conference is generally around 30 y.o.).
- Islamic associations, particularly members of reformed and inclusive Muslim associations, especially those dealing with people belonging to LGBTQIA minorities.
- Trainers, NGO leaders, refugees and vulnerable individuals in need of our expertize to defend human rights
- Muslims concerned with issues related to the image that Muslims and people from other faiths could have about Islam today.
- Anyone interested in how Muslims develop a reformed and inclusive representation of their relationship to their heritage and faith.
Since 2010, CALEM trained hundreds of participants from more than twenty countries in Europe but also from the five continents, among which two gay imams and activists in the Arab world. In Paris, for example, in 2011 CALEM hosted about a hundred participants for the seminar organized around the arrival of Amina Wadud at the EHESS; this latter told us of an Islam seen as a factor of emancipation, “without intermediary between Allah and humans”. In Brussels in 2012, CALEM endeavored the development of professional training workshops in collaboration with institutions such the city of Brussels-Capital, the Region of Brussels, the Flemish commission of Brussels, the Flemish Community of Madame Milquet. In Madrid, CALEM has aroused great interest in the media, in a country where religious conservatism and homophobia are still huge political issues. In Lisbon, in partnership with ILGA representatives, CALEM allowed the exchange of information and ideas between professional activists and human rights volunteers who have to deal with a small and new Muslim community in Portugal. After nearly twenty events (co-)organized in Europe, Africa and elsewhere, CALEM is about to participate, with other international networks, to the second international and interfaith conference of LGBT believers which will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, January 2014. In addition, CALEM participated to the organization of the first inclusive pilgrimage to Mecca in 2012, and to several publications such as the Green Book against homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia, published each year for the World Day against homophobia - May 17th. CALEM also participated to the opening of the first inclusive European mosque in Paris, by inviting at the Paris 2010 main conference Ani Zonneveld, founder of the international network of Muslims for progressive values and Imame of the Unity Mosque in Los Angeles.
In short, by organizing various international gatherings, by opening inclusive places of worship or by publishing avant-garde literature, this Islamic LGBT movement - which CALEM is one of the main components - has been trying for several years to facilitate the emancipation of individuals belonging to a sexual minority, in particular by fighting against various phobias and all forms of discrimination - homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, etc. It should be noted that the dynamics of CALEM tends increasingly to focus on international cultural and spiritual retreats; the last one was held in North Africa during the Sacred Music Festival in Fez, Morocco - June 2013. It was a first retreat of its kind in an Arab-Muslim country where a dozen participants, from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Algeria and Morocco, confronted the homophobic law articles still condemning homosexuality in Morocco. Finally, CALEM allowed carrying out the message of these alternative theologians and committed citizens through national and international media in France, in Europe, in North and South America, Asia and even the Middle East.
 Imam Muhsinh Hendricks, Cape Town South Africa, and Imam Abdullah Daayiee, Washington United States.
 Just before the “Arab Spring”.
 L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and equal employment chances in charge of the immigration and political asylum.
 In particular through the national television channel Sexta.
 And due to which two young homosexuals were sentenced there in 2013 to four months in prison.
 Such as BBC news, Al-DJazeera, Radio France International, France 24, etc.
Trainings will be reinforced soon inch'Allah after the opening of our refuge and training center in South Africa: CALEM Rumi's Isiphephelo (spiritual and psychological counselling, training evening session, peer to peer support... Click here)