Over the last few months, I have been uhm-ing and ah-ing about whether or not I write this post. I’ve tried to write down the positives and negatives; to assess and reassess. To figure out how people will react – would I lose a massive readership? Would the Muslims who look to me for support and strength suddenly reject my words of encouragement because I’m not who they assume I am? Would there be any benefit in sharing such personal, intimate details with anyone that ever possibly comes across my blog. How would my family and friends and acquaintances react?

I have spoken to a select few, close friends, asking them to convince me one way or another. Do I go ahead and type this post up and share it with the world, or do I bite my tongue and continue to be who I am in secret without anyone else knowing?

And then Ireland, arguably the most backwards Western nation, took to the polls and voted YES to marriage equality. Not a little yes, not a ‘sure, whatever’ yes. A big. Fat. Yes. 62% of the vote.

As the first nation to take the marriage equality issue to a referendum, Ireland showed us all that it is possible to call for change in massive social movements. We’re talking about a country where, during my lifetime, it was still illegal to be gay. That’s something else.

So, here I am, coming out.

I’m a supporter of marriage equality.

I believe that homosexuals have the right to live freely; to love freely.

I believe that homosexuals deserve to be treated the same way as anyone else.

I believe that a person’s sexuality is none of anyone else’s business.

I believe that homosexuals should not be ostracised.

I believe that homosexuals should not live in fear of rejection, fear of persecution.

I believe the fact that people still take their own lives because of their homosexuality is disgraceful.

I believe the fact that people still have to ‘come out’ is disgraceful.

I believe the fact that some people will never be able to come out is disgraceful.

I believe that homosexuality is not a choice and that anyone who thinks it is is an idiot.

And no, I’m not gay, I’m not a lesbian. I’m a straight, Muslim woman who holds the tenants of Islam close to my heart. That is not a reason to treat homosexuals as outcasts and deny them their rights to live as equal citizens in a secular society.

As a writer and advocate for social justice, I cannot continue to sit idly by, while I watch people actively fighting to oppress the rights of others. I don’t need to be gay to understand their plight and to want marriage equality. I am a human, fighting my own fights and struggling with my own battles. I absolutely refuse to step on others in the process. I refuse to say nothing. I refuse to facilitate an environment where something as simple as marriage equality is still such a big deal. Why are we even having this debate in the first place?

We live in a country where we are, for the most part, free from the strong-hold of all religions. No single religious group has the power to force another religious or non-religious group to live in a particular way. If I wanted to get married and have an Islamic marriage, no government and no religious organisation could tell me that my marriage is invalid. We are afforded such a precious gift – the right to live by our own moral code without interference.

So how dare anyone who holds any religious conviction turn around and deny any basic human right to anyone else?

What a hypocritical, hurtful belief – that your right to be who you are and love who you love without interference should be protected while you stand against the right of another to do the very same thing in a slightly different way.

I will never try to argue that any of the religious texts are positive about homosexuality. In fact, I won’t even argue that they are tolerant of it. However, there is nothing in my religious and moral code that justifies me oppressing another. If anything, my religion tells me to leave others to live their lives as they see fit.

How does their love and their life affect you in any way? Here's a hint: it doesn't.

How does their love and their life affect you in any way? Here’s a hint: it doesn’t.

I’m sick of having to worry about speaking up in support of my gay friends (and the broader gay community!). I mean, let’s think about this. I have spent months worrying about whether I should write a post that says ‘yeah. Humans have the right to live however they want.’ What sort of world do we live in where this is even a question? Are we really, in 2015, asking if it’s okay to let others live their lives however they want??

Let me make it clear what I’m NOT saying, those those of you who are currently freaking out while reading this post:

– No, I don’t want to see homosexuals making out in the street. But that’s not because they’re gay – it’s because I don’t want to see anyone else making out in the streets.

– No, I don’t think that it’s Islamically/whatever-other-religionly accepted to live a homosexual life. On first reading, it appears that most religious texts do not condone homosexuality. That is an irrelevant consideration. We don’t live in an Islamic country, we don’t live in a Christian country. We live in a country where no religion has power over another. As such, there is absolutely nothing that stands in the way of marriage equality. And I don’t care that you think that marriage is between a man and a woman – gay people think it should be between any consenting, human adults. Get over it.

– No, I don’t think that religious institutions should be forced to conduct homosexual marriages.

– No, I’m not trying to make you or your children gay. If homosexuality isn’t something that you have to worry about – be thankful. At least you don’t have to worry about being ostracised by a bunch of people for something that you don’t have control over (NO, THEY DIDN’T CHOOSE TO BE THAT WAY.)

– No, I’m not telling you to actively go out in the streets and protest for marriage equality. I’m saying that if you don’t support gay marriage – fine, don’t. Just get out of the way of those who do.

So, well done Ireland. Well done anyone who recognises that it’s okay to be religious AND to support equality for those who love differently to us.

If you want to leave a nasty comment – go on, make my day and CONTACT ME.

To those of you who are in the closet and struggling to come to terms with what that means for your everyday life – I am so sorry. I wish with all of my heart that I was capable of taking away that heartache and fear and confusion. Know that there are so many people in the world who are on your side, supporting your right to be who you are without interference. Don’t let those who harbour hate guilt you into feeling like you’re not worthy, that you are lesser. You are not. No one can take your humanity from you. It’s going only going to get better.

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