The long road to being gay and Muslim
It took Algerian-born Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed (35) two decades to come to terms with himself, but now that he's at peace he's made it his goal to fight Islamophobia and homophobia.
His call comes at a time when France, home to Europe's largest Muslim community, is warming up to gay marriage.
New Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who took over after the Socialist victory in June elections ousted their conservative predecessors, promised this month to offer marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples "in the first quarter of 2013".
Zahed, a PhD student in religious anthropology, married his fellow Muslim partner in South Africa, the continent's only country to recognise same-sex unions. Becoming a spokesperson for the community was a long time in the making, a product of much soul-searching.
"I think homosexuality, whatever one says, is not a choice," he wrote in his memoir Le Coran et la chair, or The Koran and the Flesh, published in March.
"And you'd have to be crazy to choose to be homosexual when you come from my socio-cultural background."
Homosexuality is considered a criminal offence in most Arab states and is "strictly prohibited" by Islam, said Abdallah Zekri, a member of the French Council of the Muslim Faith which acts as an official interlocutor with the French state.
"No imam, unless self-proclaimed, can officiate a gay wedding," he said. (...)