Ethnicity and the Making of Gay Muslims in Britain and Malaysia

  • Shanon ShahEmail author
Part of the Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies book series (BOREFRRERE)


In this chapter, I argue that ethnicity plays an important role in the way young gay Muslims in Britain and Malaysia shape and express their religious and sexual identities. I also suggest that perceptions about Islam’s supposedly ‘inherent’ opposition to homosexuality are often influenced by underlying assumptions which link Muslim identities with non-white ethnicities. My central concern is the way people who are seen as ‘out of place’ develop everyday strategies, practices, and outlooks to negotiate belonging in wider society. This chapter is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Malaysia and Britain between October 2012 and September 2013, including 29 in-depth interviews with gay Muslim men and women, who were mostly in their 20s and 30s. My study contributes to understandings about the way individuals actively use religion and sexuality to shape their identities. Additionally, I compare the ways in which the experiences of gay Muslims are affected by differing social and political contexts of Islam—in Malaysia where Muslims form the majority of the population and in Britain where they are a minority.


Islam Sexuality Ethnicity Identity Malaysia Britain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theology and Religious StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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