My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The tragic tale of a Muslim lesbian in the UK....

And, how many thousands of gay men and women go through suffering like this???
"I took off my hijab, and I threw it on the floor and my brother got really mad. It's the worst thing I could have done to offend my religion, aside from burn or tear the Koran.

"My mother, she kind of stood still, and started listening, and it was very liberating that she finally wanted to hear what I had to say.

"I told her about my sexuality and I said 'that's right, I do meet girls, and I love it' and I told her that she had been hurting me really badly, and I will never forgive her."

Now 20, Reviva - not her real name - recounts the day she finally came out to her family, her pupils flash and the flat, matter-of-fact delivery of her story-telling becomes briefly animated.

This, you realise, is the pivotal moment in a disturbing journey of self-discovery which encompasses family estrangement, exorcism, and attempted suicide.

Like hundreds of young men and women in Britain, Reviva was forced into marriage in spite of her sexual orientation, and still carries deep psychological scars from years of torment at the hands of her parents.

Rising trend

The government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) has received hundreds of calls from young gay men and women - mainly men - who fear they are going to be forced into marriage by their family, against their will.

This year, the FMU has dealt with 29 confirmed cases of forced marriage involving gay men and women. Last year, the unit offered support and advice to nearly 1,700 cases in total.

Just how many of those involved lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) victims is unknown, because not everyone is willing to divulge their sexuality. However, it is thought this emerging trend is just the tip of the iceberg, as more gay men and women seek assistance.

When arranging to interview her for 5 live Investigates, we asked Reviva if she would like to bring a friend for support. But this attractive student, with a hint of Goth, opts to come alone, preferring to keep even her closest friends in the dark about her troubled past.

As she admits, "I'm unable to show emotion, I'm unable to trust people. The only person I really trust is myself. I am unable to be vulnerable with a person, I'm unable to feel a lot of things."

Born in the Middle East, but schooled in Britain, Reviva's difficulties began in adolescence when she became aware of being attracted to girls rather than boys.

"The first kiss I had, I was around 12," she recalls.

"It was always kisses in the playground, and kisses in the gym. With girls it was always perfect. It was always nice. It wasn't something I was ashamed of. It was beautiful."

Not for discussion

Aware that her parents had deep religious and cultural objections to homosexuality, Reviva gently tried to make them aware of her situation, but was quickly rebuffed:

"I tried to introduce it to them, because I knew it was a thing you don't talk about. It's forbidden. But once you mention 'homosexual' the discussion is over. You can't go into detail about it."

Far from accepting the situation, Reviva's parents set up weekly meetings with eligible bachelors - and reacted with violence when their teenage daughter refused to play along.

"The worst thing they tried was burning my hand on the stove. Anything they could grab, they'd hit you until you'd sort of pass out.

"They always tried to hit me where it couldn't be seen, to hide the scars. Because don't forget I was meant to get married, so I was meant to have skin that isn't damaged."

Reviva says she attempted suicide several times, knowing that she could never satisfy her parents, for whom she reserves an unmistakable venom.

While she understands the roots of their traditional views, her simmering anger betrays the belief that when all is said and done, her home should have been a refuge - not a place of emotional torture.

Escalating ordeal

In a desperate attempt to force the situation, her father even signed her away in an Islamic marriage to a man in another country, who she had never met.

Reviva, who was still at school, used her impending exams as a delaying tactic to ensure the relationship was never consummated and it was ultimately annulled.

Far from ending, her ordeal intensified. The troubled teenager was taken to her grandmother's house in the Middle East where, as she recalls with a chilling lack of emotion, her parents tried persuading her to take her own life.

"I was damaging the family honour. I was making the family looking like a modernised, westernised, filthy family. So what they wanted to do is get rid of what is damaging the honour.

"They put you in a room on your own, I don't get any food, or any water, and I have to just sit there and wait to die or kill myself."

To aid the process, a gun, a knife, and pills were left in the room, along with a can of petrol and a box of matches. In her view, Reviva says it would have amounted to murder, not suicide, should she have decided to killed herself.

"But I wasn't in a situation where I felt I have to end my life. Even if I was, I wouldn't have done it the way they wanted me to do it."

Her refusal to give in led to further action from her family, as they sought to "cure" her of her homosexuality.

"They tried a few exorcisms" she deadpans, as if having evil spirits cast out was nothing more extreme than a routine dental check up.

This intense young woman briefly lightens up and punctures her solemn tale with a vivacious smile:

"It isn't like The Omen, it isn't as dramatic. You lay on a prayer mat, and somebody who is very religious, will read several verses from the Koran.

"It's very frightening because everyone is scared of being possessed by something, and then you think 'maybe I am?' because I have desires and thoughts that my parents think are wrong."

After this morale-sapping ordeal, Reviva briefly tried to come to an accommodation with her parents' views and dutifully studied the Koran.

Break for freedom

Reviva's family then returned to England but not long after she found one-way plane tickets for her and her father and she realised he was trying to marry her once more - again, to a man she had never met.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It saddens me to read your story and really hit home. I have also come from a similar past and have escaped the evil that actually lied within my so called mentors in life. The humiliation, manipulation and guilt did not phase me nor made me want to shape myself the way my parents saw fit..
I am sorry for your pain and abuse, I hope for everyone out there going through this unfairness in life that in the end the ignorance in others is faced and they realize that we are also people, adults that can make our own decisions in life and one life lived should not effect another to the point where it is questioned if we are alive!

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well u shouldv just listen to your parents in the first place u provoked them that's why in the first place you get brought up by learning listen to your parents, a man and women belong together not the other way around, I'm sorry but I don't feel sorry for you at all, u mustv put so much pressure on them for going extreme length its always a two way story!

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Islam, it isn't the parents choice who a person gets married to. That is out of their control entirely, they are only allowed to suggest suitable people for their child. And that is just your opinion.

1:46 PM  

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