Honoring Women's Advocacy: Muslim Women Who are Making a Difference

In honor of Women’s History Month, GLAAD’s Religion, Faith, & Values program is profiling women from different faith groups who have dedicated themselves to justice and equality for the LGBT community, both within their faith communities and in society as a whole. Today we are profiling Muslim women advocates and allies.

Urooj Arshad is the Associate Director for Equity and Social Justice at Advocates for Youth. She has thirteen years of experience as an advocate for the LGBT community, particularly at the intersections between Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia. At Advocates for Youth, she has developed a program that addresses the health and wellbeing of LGBT youth worldwide and hopes to increase the reach of partner organizations in low and middle income countries. She is also co-chair of the Queer Muslim Collective and has been honored as part of the 15 APA Women Leader Spotlights Campaign through the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.

Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) is an organization that supports a variety of progressive causes, including staunch advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community. Co-founder Ani Zonneveld, a Malaysian-born singer-songwriter believes that LGBT people deserve full equality within Islam, a position supported by her reading of the Quran. Late last year she officiated the Islamic wedding of a lesbian couple. Pamela K. Taylor, who co-founded MPV with Ani Zonneveld, is an American-born Muslim and writer, who contributes to the Washington Post’s On Faith section, where she has advocated on behalf of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and marriage equality. Taylor and Zonneveld wrote support for equality into the guiding principles of their organization, stating:

We endorse the human and civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals. We support full equality and inclusion of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in society and in the Muslim community. We affirm our commitment to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

GLAAD recognizes Urooj Arshad, Ani Zonneveld, and Pamela K. Taylor for their work on behalf of the Muslim and LGBT communities. If you have suggestions of other women to highlight during Women’s History Month, please contact GLAAD’s Faith & Campaigns fellow, Miriam Lazewatsky