A Jihad for Love



Panorama Documentary

BERLIN -- Parvez Sharma's documentary "A Jihad for Love" is a sober testament by gay men and women whose sexuality is outlawed in their Muslim homelands but who strive to follow the religious path anyway.

The film will likely show up at gay festivals especially because of the bravery of some of those taking part, who have elected to make their plight public though several contributors choose to remain anonymous. Mainstream audiences, especially those who find the demands of some faiths inexplicable, might find it less absorbing.

Several of the faces are obscured as Muslims exiled from India and Iran relate their sad tales, and the simple tears of the few bold enough to reveal themselves are moving. Much of what is shown onscreen, however, is atmospheric filler, while the various characters describe being made outcasts because of their sexuality while holding on to their commitment to their faith.

The ferocious grip that cultural and religious training has on its subjects does become frighteningly clear, however, when one gay man asks his Muslim children what they would do if he were arrested and sentenced to be stoned to death. Their wish is that the first stone would kill him so that he did not suffer.