How’s Pride Month in the Middle East?

“There is more visibility and audibility of the LGBTIQ community,” says Mounir Samuel in NOS For tomorrow’s purposes† He is a political scientist and has traveled through the Middle East as a correspondent for the Groene Amsterdammer for more than ten years.

Israel

“The famous Pride party is Tel-Aviv, which had its climax last Friday. But at the same time, I think it’s the most wrong Pride party in the world, ”says Samuel. “Israel has no constitutional recognition of homosexuals and transgender people or other sexualities or gender diversity. You do not have a legally equal civil marriage in Israel because you must be married to an Orthodox rabbi and he will not marry queer persons, no Christians and Muslims. Not all kinds of people are recognized in their marriage. ”

According to Samuel, it is selective freedom for queer people. “There is also a political agenda behind it. In Jerusalem, the last gay bars have long since closed. It’s even dangerous to go hand in hand as a queer couple, for that city is becoming more and more orthodox. This applies to large parts of Israel. Tel Aviv has become a kind of sanctuary, call it the Las Vegas of the Middle East. This city is fully committed to becoming a palace for LGBTIQ people in Israel, especially to become a tourist attraction. Tel-Aviv Pride is not a form of protest that the Pride movement originated, but is paid for with three million from the municipality as the biggest PR stunt in Israel. Israel is also actively fighting for this, bringing hundreds of journalists to Tel Aviv each year to show how big a gay Valhalla it is. ”

According to Samuel, the campaign is primarily aimed at men. “Because they are the richest men in the world. Gay couples are also the richest couple in the Netherlands.”

Egypt

‘Egypt has no government promoting Pride or anything like that, but on the other hand it has a very active LGBTIQ movement. He has many activist reasons to join Pride Month. They start this week with their own Pride, completely secret, but semi-tolerated by the government, ”explains Samuel. “You have to think of workshops and training sessions for parties, for secret marriages and drag races. The whole pile. It happens in all kinds of neighborhoods in Cairo. ”

“Many embassies are also working on it. They have a sanctuary, they can do whatever they want there. For example, the Dutch embassy can facilitate things for the LGBTIQ movement under the guise of cultural participation. ”

Lebanon

“Lebanon has always been the most progressive country in the whole region. There you have a Pride since 2017, which is celebrated quite publicly in Beirut. In Beirut you also have big well-known clubs that are decidedly queer.” “Since the explosion in the port of Beirut, the country has struggled with massive inflation and food shortages.” I therefore do not know if the Pride will continue this year, but even in corona time a modest Pride was celebrated. Despite all the terrible circumstances. “

Tunisia

“Tunisia has a very progressive government that adopts one law after another. You do not have an assimilated marriage yet, but I expect it sometime in the next few years. At least you have one of the biggest queer film festivals in the world. Larger than Amsterdam. It is organized directly behind the Ministry of the Interior. The minister just came by. “

“In Tunisia, you also have a very active lesbian and transgender movement. They are very public on the streets, and there is also a fairly high acceptance among the population,” says Samuel. “The Middle East is because more than 75 percent of the population is under the age of 30. In a country like Egypt, you are talking about 75 million zillionials and younger than that.” These are young people from 1992. “They look at queer issues completely differently. They are also very aware of LGBTIQ.”

Contrast

“Where in Tunisia one sees a huge movement of secularism and atheism, Israel is only becoming more conservative and conservative because the ultra-Orthodox and orthodox Jews are having so many children. The secular and atheist Jews do not. “This is one reason why the Israeli government is subsidizing gay couples to produce as many Jewish children as possible with a Jewish egg and a surrogate mother in India,” Samuel said. “This is all demographic warfare against the Arab-Israelis, but also to prevent only Orthodox children from being in the country. Therefore, apart from the Tel Aviv free port, Israel is only becoming more conservative, while the region is only becoming more progressive.”

“My peers in Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon have very open-minded and progressive ideas about gender in general. So the number of people living together is increasing, premarital sex is not taboo at all and one can talk openly about it. Even doubt about the Prophet and the faith as Muslims is something that is talked about and laughed at. ”

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