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These inspiring videos are amplifying the voice of LGBT+ Middle Eastern and North African people

Jasmine Andersson April 20, 2018

A rare candid video series documenting what it’s like to be LGBT+ in the Middle East and North Africa has been released.

The series, which documents the lives of LGBT+ people across the likes of Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt and Jordan offers a snapshot of what it’s like to be queer in the countries.

In the Middle East alone, homosexuality is illegal in 10 of the 18 countries that make up the region, and is punishable by death in six of those nations.

“Walking down the street, people would laugh at me,” says Rashed from Jordan in the video created by Human Rights Watch.

“I went to a religious healer. Sometimes he hit me, and it used to hurt a lot… he would hit me all night but nothing would change,” said Rayan, who is from Algeria.

The people featured in the series are all now LGBT+ activists.

They hope that by highlighting their presence they will help other queer people in their nations feel less alone.

“I found this group that had many Sudanese [lesbian] girls. I wrote, ‘Where are you people?’ I realized I was not alone in the world, there are many people like me, and I was very happy. I think that night I was so happy I didn’t sleep,” said Noor, who is a lesbian from Sudan.

“My father was against me in every way. But he transformed from hateful to accepting and tolerant,” said Dalia, a gay woman from Egypt.

Hamed Sinno, the lead singer of Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila also appears in the video.

A Pride flag at Mashrou Leila's concert
A Pride flag at Mashrou Leila’s concert in Egypt

The band were banned from performing in Jordan in 2016  due to Sinno’s sexuality.

The Jordanian Ministry of the Interior had said that the band had “gone against Islamic and Christian beliefs” in the country.

Seven people were arrested in Egypt after authorities accused them of being gay and promoting homosexuality by flying a rainbow Pride flag at a Mashrou’ Leila gig.

One of the men arrested was sent to prison for six years for “practising debauchery” on the way home.

More: Africa, Egypt, human rights, Lebanon, mashrou' leila, Middle East, north africa, Sudan

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