Gay Muslim activist from Pakistan wins human rights award

Graphic promoting the
Graphic promoting the “Allah Loves Equality” campaign.

The most important human rights award in Italy was awarded last month to a gay Muslim activist who was originally from Pakistan.

Wajahat Abbas Kazmi with notification of his award.
Wajahat Abbas Kazmi with notification of his award.

The Italian Coalition for Freedom and Rights (CILD) chose Wajahat Abbas Kazmi as  “Young Activist of the Year.”

Kazmi, co-founder of “Il Grande Colibrì,” the first Italian LGBT intercultural association, was responsible for creating last year’s “Allah Loves Equality” campaign. He was born in Pakistan and now lives in Italy near Milan. This year he went back to Pakistan with association member Elena De Piccoli to film a documentary, also titled “Allah Loves Equality,” that will feature the voices of gay, lesbian and transsexual people and couples in Pakistan.

Kazmi, who has been an activist with Amnesty International for several years, received the award in Rome at a ceremony last month during which he discussed his trip in Pakistan and his encounters with activists there:

“We have a lot to learn from these people: the vast majority told us that they do not want to leave their country because ‘if we leave this country, who will be here to bring change?’

“We met people in Pakistan who were much more courageous in coming out than immigrants and second-generation immigrants living in Europe. … In Europe they experience less discrimination and do not risk their life at the hand of intolerant people who consider being gay to be a form of blasphemy.”

Il Grande Colibrì president Pier Cesare Notaro said:

“We are very pleased with the award given to Wajahat. The ‘Allah Loves Equality’ campaign has been a great success from many standpoints. Many people have expressed interest, we have raised awareness in order to fight prejudice, and we’ve been able to support the making of a very important documentary film. None of this would have been possible without Wajahat’s courage and commitment, as well as that of other activists in our association. This award is an important milestone on the road to promote acceptance of LGBTQIA Muslims that started over six years ago in a climate of generalized skepticism and often open hostility.”

LGBT rights demonstrators in Italy display
LGBT rights demonstrators in Italy display “Allah Loves Equality” posters. (Photo courtesy of Pressenza.com)

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Written by Mike Daemon

Mike Daemon is the pseudonym of the founder and presenter of the No Strings podcasts, based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which provide a voice for the country’s LGBTIQ+ community. Through the No Strings website, he reports on issues affecting the lives of LGBTQ+ Nigerians. He launched and maintains the Qtalk app, which provides safe and private access to legal and psychosocial counseling for LGBTQ+ Nigerians. Contact him by email via info (at) nostringsng.com.

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