My heart goes out to our gay brothers and sisters in Egypt. I spent much time in Cairo and towns along the Nile some years ago and met some absolutely lovely gay Egyptian men. The other thing I remember about them is the fear and dread with which they had to live their daily lives, always hiding – from nosey neighbours, from local religious, and from the police. Most people in the West have NO IDEA how awful it is for our gay brothers and sisters in Egypt and in other Muslim countries, in the Middle East, the Far East, and in Africa. That this still goes on today when we have made so much progress in terms of gay rights here in the more progressive parts of the West is appalling. Our governments need to bring really effective pressure to bear on the governments of all Muslim countries and at the same time we, at an individual level, need to reach out to these people. Imagine if 300 of us chartered an aircraft and flew to Egypt and paraded clearly right through the heart of Cairo bringing shame on the country. They wouldn’t dare arrest the lot of us and if they did what an international spectacle it would become! What if . . . what if . . . .
Dai, I’m in solidarity with all of our fellow brothers and sisters across the globe. I’m constantly writing to politicians about the plight of our people in those backward and oppressive societies. Now, 300 of us going there to bring shame on them? I daresay it would raise awareness internationally, but if it were to backfire, do you think our government would do much to get us out of it, no matter who is in power?We have to ask ourselves, why is it that the international community and its governments are so silent, our own included? Why are we deporting gay asylum seekers back to their potential deaths or other retaliatory action and why do they have to prove their sexual orientation in the first place? Are straights ever required to demonstrate theirs for whatever reason? The answer is, an overwhelming NO! The execution of just one gay islamic person is one too many and the collective silence among the world’s democracies gives tacit consent.
Robert ExPat, glad to learn of another activist out there directing a constant stream of letters of objection and recommendation at politicians etc.However, we have to remember the collective physical power of the people, the power of their presence, the power of direct action. Remember Stonewall. Remember the night we/they rioted and said, “No! Enough!” You’re heard of the Sydney Mardi Gras? Remember that it too started sadly dramatically. In 1978 just a few hundred Gay Lesbian Aussies had permission to walk a few hundred yards down one Sydney street and gather in the park at the end. But that short walk was extraordinary – 100s joined in from the pavements, it got out of hand and turned nasty (thank God!), and by the time they reached the park the police had got scared and banned the planned gathering. But the marchers now were collectively strong and BRAVE and they turned in another direction and marched together for another half-mile, their numbers swelling and increasing all the while. 30 years later that parade has grown into a festival that draws GLBT people from all over the globe and continues to nourish gay pride and survival!You wrote:”Now, 300 of us going there to bring shame on them? I daresay it would raise awareness internationally, but if it were to backfire, do you think our government would do much to get us out of it, no matter who is in power?”Robert, “to bring shame on them” is obviously not the objective. What it is is a “worst possible scenario”. Fear is what is holding the homosexual thousands of Egypt back. With our help we could trigger them to overcome that fear. The last thing they need is encouragement to continue to fear, to continue to hide, to continue to accept being victims of the bigotted. And, for sure, many Egyptian gay men would come out and join in such a march. (Yes, they DO have brave ones among them too. VERY brave ones, from those I have met.) And if there is trouble, then there is trouble. Good! The gay men of Egypt can’t afford to let fear of “trouble” stop them from rebelling! Anybody who has feared “backlash” or “trouble” from oppressors and has therefore never had the guts to fight back, has never in the end won through! Think of Nelson Mandela, think of Ghandi, to name only two. In fact, let’s give Ghandi the last word. Ghandi said:”A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”
Dai, thank you for that, I do agree with you.Are you now able to access comments in the normal manner? I don’t know why I can’t, I’ve exhausted all possibilities to get it back to the way it was. I wonder who Ben will choose for the next web agent to run the commentaries? I hope its better than haloscan, a website that is not friendly to individuals unless you are a member by having a blog or website of you’re own. Really sucks!
The Egyptian government is persecuting GLBT citizens to placate the Islamic Brotherhood and other muslim fundamentalists, just as the Bush promotes antigay legislation and policies to placate christian fundamentalists. Likewise rightist Conservatives in Canada, England and Australia oppose same sex marriage and protective laws to defend GLBT folks. They think support for these laws will upset their bigot constituents, although in each of these countries the power of the bigots is in steep decline. In teh US the same sick thinking was behind Bill Clintons support for federal and state anti same sex marriage laws like DOMA and why he paid for campaign ads on southern religious radio stations bragging brag about his support for DOMA. It’s why the Democrats trashed ENDA, the employment antidiscrimination law, and then ditched it and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. It’s the same self serving hypocrisy that promoted the passage of Section 28 and similar bigoted laws. It’s why rightwing extremists likee the BNP and the Conservatives oppose asylum for GLBT refugees and laws against hate crimes and hate speech. They claim they’re bad because their bigot friends will feel put upon. That may be true but who cares unless they’re closeted? It’s the worst sort of hypocrisy and racist islamophobia to call for US or EU intervention in the affairs of muslim nations. The genocidal murder of over one million Iraqis is all the proof anyone needs. LGBT folk, unionists and other groups will take care of both the ayatollahs and the zionists in the muslim nations when the time is ripe. The differences between EU and US rightist and christian bigots on the one hand and their cousins in the Islamic Brotherhood and among the ayatollahs on other are differences of ability to harm us, not of their intent to do so.