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Beatings, death threats and rejection: Woman tells of harrowing life as lesbian Muslim in Pakistan

Zayna says she was beaten and threatened but refused to deny her sexuality and who she truly was

Natasha Salmon
Sunday 29 October 2017 16:50 GMT

A woman has bravely revealed what it is like to be a Muslim lesbian after moving from Pakistan to the UK.

Zayna, not her real name, who is 40, said she has been beaten, humiliated and threatened because of her sexuality.

As reported by the Manchester Evening News, she refused to deny her true identity despite physical and mental abuse as people believed she had misinterpreted the messages of the Quran.

She said that while studying for her PhD she was kicked out of university because fellow students feared she was ‘dangerous’.

Also at an Islamic School when her colleagues found out about her sexuality she was told to leave or face police action.

The graduate said she insists she is still a Muslim and both her sexuality and religion are both equally important to her.

Zayna now lives in Longsight, Manchester, and spoke out in support of other LGBT Muslims.

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 need to come out and tell everyone about my story.”

Zayna grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and was the only child of conservative Muslim parents.

She described herself as a tomboy and realised she was gay as a young teenager on her 13th birthday.

She said it was “very hard” and she was told “you are not Muslim if you are a lesbian”.

But Zayna believes the Quran’s messages about homosexuality have been misinterpreted by some Muslims.

The first abuse she received was when her father found out she had been spending time with another girl as a teenager, he assumed the pair had been with men and beat her.

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’s father died when she was in her early 20s and she spent years nursing her mother, who eventually died of lung cancer.

During her time as a teacher at an Islamic school, Zayna started a relationship with another teacher but the two were discovered by colleagues.

They were told to leave or else they would be reported to the police as prostitutes. At the time she was also a PhD chemistry student and when people at the university found out she was told to leave.

Homosexuality is frowned upon in Pakistan and the country’s law prescribes criminal penalties for same-sex sexual acts including a fine or imprisonment.

Zayna started a management masters degree in the UK and began to embrace the UK's gay culture and joined LGBT International and a Birmingham-based LGBT group, Finding A Voice.

She has since had several relationship with women and has "peace of mind" that she is no longer in danger.

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