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Why Lambda Legal Stands With Muslim Communities

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December 9, 2015
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Carmina Ocampo, Staff Attorney and Immigrants' Rights Program Strategist

We join the nation in mourning the tragic murders of individuals killed during the December 2, 2015, shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. We condemn the brutal acts of hate and violence that targeted individuals who work in social services. We offer our condolences to the loved ones of those who were killed and injured and we promise to continue to stand up, speak out and work to end violence.

In our work on behalf of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV, we have fought for years against group-based discrimination, stigma, and violence against members of our community. Our community has experienced being profiled and harassed by the police, and a continuing history of being labeled, stigmatized and rejected as outsiders and as a dangerous threat by society. We know how easily irrational fears of the “other” can escalate into discrimination and then brutal violence when a group is vilified.

We therefore condemn the targeting and scapegoating of Muslims that is now escalating in the United States. We express our solidarity with Muslim people and those who are assumed to be Muslim, and also Sikh, African, Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian people who are being increasingly viewed with suspicion and hostility, stereotyped, profiled and subjected to harassment and violence in the wake of the attacks by extremists abroad and at home. We celebrate that our beautiful and diverse LGBTQ community includes LGBTQ Muslims from many racial and ethnic backgrounds. We are steadfast and determined in our support for members of our LGBTQ communities who are Muslim.

As we strongly reject the Islamophobia – the fear of Muslims or those perceived as Muslim – that is rising dangerously across the nation, we also reject mistaken assumptions that the Islamic faith or being Muslim equates with intolerance of LGBTQ people. The lived experiences of queer and trans Muslim people in our community and the voices of Muslim allies who are strong supporters of LGBT rights illustrate the diversity of Muslim people and beliefs.

We further denounce proposals that our country’s asylum and immigration policies should be shaped by fear or prejudice, let alone vilification, of Muslim groups and refugees. For more than forty years, Lambda Legal has advocated for individuals who have fled countries where they were persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. As persecution of LGBTQ individuals continues abroad, like persecution based on one’s ethnic or racial background or religious or political views, the United States must act with compassion and welcome refugees fleeing prejudice-based violence in their homelands.

At a time when many people are being actively encouraged to act on fears based on misperceptions and bigotry, we call instead for reaching out to every local Muslim community and offering support and solidarity. We all must condemn the arsons of mosques, the shooting of Qurans, the attacks on Muslim women wearing hijab, and policy proposals that target, exclude and vilify Muslims.

In this time of testing, America must aspire to be a place of refuge, religious diversity, tolerance and pluralism. Together we can create a future free of violence and persecution of all members of the LGBTQ community.