LGBTQ+  Matters

"We reject every form of discrimination, inequality and exclusion, and that includes discrimination against LGBTQ+ people." 

Halaleh Taheri

MEWSo Founder and Executive Director

 

Why LGBTQ+

Issues Matter

Equal Rights for All

The status of women will only improve if all women are included in the fight, no matter what her sexual identity.

LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning; and the plus sign represents any other sexual identity, such as pansexual, asexual, omnisexual, etc.

 

The acronym is an all encompassing symbol of inclusion.

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Truths About LGBTQ+ Discrimination

in the Middle East and North Africa

  • The official version in many very conservative countries around the world is that LGBTQ+ people simply don't exist. It is considered a life-style choice chosen by many who live in 'decadent' societies. 

  • So, opposition to LGBTQ+ people remains deeply-rooted in many conservative communities who come to live in the UK.

  • This was not always the case. At one time in many regions of the Middle East, male attraction and homoerotic poetry was widely considered educated and refined.**

  • As Britain made life difficult for homosexuals in the late 1800s right up until the law was changed in 1967, many countries in Northern Africa, such as Morocco,* were far less judgemental. Sodomy was a sin in Muslim courts but, perhaps because of the strict separation of the sexes, other gay acts, such as holding hands, passionate kissing, fondling or lesbian sex, were not.** 

  • These attitudes changed over time, influenced by decades of harsh punishments for homosexual behaviour administered by colonial European powers in the region, such as Britain and France. And, the rise of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East and North Africa in the 1970's, just as gay rights were starting to be recognised in America and Europe.**

 * Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, 21 Jun 2016 

** The Economist, Open Society: How homosexuality became a crime in the Middle East, 6 June, 2018

"In the 13th and 14th centuries two celebrated male poets wrote about men in affectionate, even amorous, terms. They were Rumi and Hafiz, and both lived in what is now Iran. Their musings were neither new nor unusual. Centuries earlier Abu Nuwas, a bawdy poet from Baghdad, wrote lewd verses about same-sex desire. Such relative openness towards homosexual love used to be widespread in the Middle East."

**The Economist, Open Society: How homosexuality became a crime in the Middle East, 6 June, 2018

We Can Help

  • Provide you with help if you are in danger.

  • Give women one-to-one advice on LGBTQ+ issues.

  • Give LGBTQ+ men and trans men from Middle Eastern, North African and Asian communities one-to-one advice.

  • Advise you of your rights.

  • Have regular workshops where you can meet, share experiences, be creative and make friends with other LGBTQ+ people.

  • Create a safe space where you are supported and feel able to speak out.

  • Connect you with other neighbourhood charities and LGBTQ+ organisations that can also help.

If you, or a friend, need help or advice about LGBTQ+ issues

Call: 07579 801 365
Email: Sodabeh.Gashtasebi@mewso.org

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and speak to the police.

Our Campaign

  • To fight discrimination wherever and whenever we come across it.

  • Challenge harmful attitudes in the community at a grassroots level.

  • Organise seminars and conferences to discuss the issues within communities.

  • Talk to influential community leaders to push for more humane attitudes.

  • Work with other charities, organisations, community groups, schools, Local Authorities and the Government to fight LGBTQ+ discrimination.

  • Build on the expertise of others to protect LGBTQ+ people's rights in our communities. 

 

"The pressures to marry someone of the opposite sex can be enormous and marriage generally is often considered a family responsibility."

"If LGBTQ+ people are not completely accepted by their family, at best they may be forced to ‘be cured’ through religion and/or psychiatry; at worst, kicked out of the family, physically assaulted or even killed." 

Halaleh Taheri

MEWSo Founder and Executive Director

MEWSo is funded by the National Emergencies Trust to support LGBTQ+ people from Middle Eastern, North African and Asian communities experiencing abuse and discrimination.

See all our funders.

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