International: Being lesbian, bi, trans woman in the Middle East: survival kit.

Outstanding activists show how it is indeed possible to fight for LGBT rights by working with other Human Rights and feminist partners, positive examples are provided in the fashion of a survival kit.
Lesbian, bisexual and trans women from the Middle East and from North Africa are probably the most invisible and discriminated in the whole word.
In a very difficult political, economical and social context, they face multiple discriminations as women, where women have no or little rights and no freedom. Their life is being managed most of the time by the members of their family, even to what regards when to get married, with whom, how many children to have and, sometimes, even how to dress. Homosexuality is criminalized in most of these countries and where it is not, it is still highly stigmatized and being considered either a disease or a sin. Additionally most activists found it very difficult to work with their gay counterparts and sometimes the feminist agenda simply ignores lesbian, bisexual and trans women’s rights. How to survive in this difficult context? Outstanding activists from this region will provide us with positive examples in the fashion of a survival kit. They will show how it is indeed possible to fight for one’s rights by working with other Human Rights and feminist partners.

Moderator: Patricia Curzi, Women’s Project Coordinator, ILGA

Rima Ar, Aswat, Palestinian Gay Women (Palestine/Israel)
She has been an active member in Aswat’s group for the past 4 years, and was elected a board member in the past year. Today, she takes the lead in monitoring and evaluating Aswat’s organizational management. Being an amateur photographer, she portrays her angle of Palestinian LGBT women, and recently, a collection of her work was displayed in the national feminist conference.

Rima Ab, Aswat, Palestinian Gay Women (Palestine/Israel)
She has been a feminist activist for the past 6 years. She joined Aswat’s staff 3 years as Information and Publication coordinator, bringing her unique outlook in documenting women stories and experiences in the Palestinian LBT world in Arabic. Rima views her job through Aswat’s publication to outreach to the Palestinian community in LBT issues, and empowering Palestinian LBT women. In addition, Rima administers Aswat’s website and virtual forums.

Stéphanie, MEEM (Lebanon)
Stéphanie has been in MEEM for more than 2 years as an Outreach and membership coordinator. Before that she has been an activist “on her own” fighting for women’s rights, LGBT rights and human rights.

Dr. Iman Al Ghafari, Tishreen University (Syria)
She is an academic researcher and an assistant professor. She received my Ph.D. in 1999 from Cairo University with first class honors. The title of my Ph.D. is "The Quest for Identity in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath: A Feminist Approach". I have many writings and publications in the field of gender issues and lesbian studies in the Arab culture. As a researcher in SEPHIS program, I'm currently finalizing my research on "The Lesbian Existence in the Arab Cultures: Sociological and Historical Perspectives".

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14 August 2009

Source: ILGA