‘No Longer Alone’: LGBT voices in Middle East, N. Africa

LGBT rights activists in the Middle East and North Africa are finding new ways to speak out and build alliances to bring about change, despite state-sponsored oppression and social stigma. Their struggles and achievements are the focus of the newly released Audacity in Adversity report and its accompanying videos.

““My dad, who was against me in everything, moved from hate to acceptance,” says Dalia from Egypt in one of the videos. Versions are available both with Arabic and with English subtitles.

The report and video series were produced by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in cooperation with the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE).

“Many governments in the region reject the concepts of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ altogether,” the report points out. “Faced with official intransigence, some activists choose to work outside state structures: their activism focuses on community building and attitudinal change. Others have taken on their governments, successfully pushing for incremental change in various forms.”

Despite all these efforts, progress can still be marred with setbacks, with the most evident case being the recent crackdown against rainbow communities in Egypt.

This is where community voices are most important in reaching out to individuals to tell them that they are not alone: the video series created by HRW with the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) shows individual activists reaching out in Arabic to LGBT people living in the region, offering messages of support and encouragement. Click here to watch the series.

The short videos can be viewed here or uploaded directly to individuals’ social media accounts.

This article includes information from Human Rights Watch, the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality and the latest edition of ILGA’s LGBulleTIn.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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