Glitter & Be Gay
Recently, Russia’s Duma ushered in an anti-gay bill that prohibits “gay propaganda” for people under the age of 18. Young gays and lesbians are no longer allowed to have access to materials and information about “homosexual lifestyles.” In an odd side effect to this new bill, glitter use has also been banned from all school-aged children. Glitter manufacturers across Russia have severely curtailed production and have suffered an economic loss due to this new anti-gay law. It has been debated if all glitter use should be abolished in make-up and clothing. And thus begins a new lackluster age in Russian history.
Gay life in Egypt is harsh and dangerous. Egypt’s population is mostly Muslim and its society and politics are heavily influenced by Muslim attitudes and teachings which are intensely intolerant toward gays. Consensual sex between same-sex individuals is not expressly criminalized in Egyptian law, “but it is a serious taboo” where “gay men are vilified by the press and public.”
Worse still, starting in 2000 or so, Egypt began exploiting the “Public Order & Public Morals” to arrest, charge, torture, and sentence gays to prison and hard labor. The charges tend to be based on references to “debauchery” or some similar “moral” allegation.
LGBT life was arguably getting slightly better in the 1990’s. Then in 2000, an Egyptian gay couple was arrested and charged with “violation of honor by threat” and “practicing immoral and indecent behavior.” These two arrests were widely covered and became a media sensation and led various Egyptian public figures to demand that Egypt “execute homosexuals or send them to mental institutions to be reformed.” Soon after these demands, Egypt began a very organized and public crackdown on homosexuality initially by way of police raiding private parties attended by Egyptian gay men.
The first of these raids took place in 2001 when the police stormed a private boat party in Cairo. There, the police arrested fifty-two Egyptian gay men who would become known worldwide as the “Cairo 52.” Despite intense pressure by international governments and human rights organizations, twenty-three of the Cairo 52 were sentenced to prison with hard labor. Subsequent raids and arrests have continued In 2003, police set up checkpoints in a popular cruising area in downtown Cairo and arrested 62 men. In 2004, a 17-year old male student was sentenced to a 17-year prison sentence (with 2 years of hard labor) simply for posting a personal profile on a gay dating site.
A 2004 Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) report entitled “In Time of Torture” stated that HRW knew of at least “179 men” charged “under the law against ‘debauchery,’” but HRW suspected the true number of defendants charged with this crime was much, much greater. And HRW nevertheless reported that hundreds of others above the 179 men charged were known to have been harassed, arrested, and/or tortured simply based on their sexuality. According to HRW, police “routinely torture men suspected of homosexual conduct, sometimes to extract confessions and sometimes simply as a sadistic reminder of the burden of shame their alleged behavior incurs.”
It is too early to tell whether the recent revolution that toppled the Hosni Mubarak’s regime will usher in greater acceptance of the LGBTI community. Keli Goff of the Huffington Post and others remain skeptical that better days lie ahead and note that a “big question mark remains regarding what this new era in Egypt will mean for gays and lesbians.”
The Unites States Department of State recognizes that country conditions for the LGBTI community in Egypt remain hostile. In its Country Conditions Report for the year 2011, the United States Government found that Egypt “allows police to arrest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons on charges of ‘debauchery,’” and that “[g]ay men and lesbians faced significant social stigma in society and in the workplace, impeding their ability to organize or publicly advocate on behalf of the LGBT community.”
Not surprisingly, gay life in Egypt has gone back to being mostly underground. Gays are forced to find solace on the Internet and secluded places away from public view. They understand that they will face intense hostility if they are even perceived to be gay, let alone if they are caught displaying any sort of same-sex intimacy. Like so many other Middle East (and African) countries, Egypt persecutes its LGBTI community in stark and unequivocal ways, and it does so, ironically, in defense of morality.
The conditions are so brutal that most gay Egyptians who make it to the United States will be eligible for asylum so long as they (i) have a clean criminal record, (ii) have not married a member of the opposite sex, and (iii) file within the one-year filing deadline. But (again) every case is different and it is important to discuss asylum with an experienced asylum attorney to determine whether it is a viable option. This is so even if you do not meet the three forgoing factors (e.g., 1-year filing deadline), because waivers and exceptions may be available depending on the particular circumstances of your case.
I am able to represent clients in all 50 states, and will be glad to speak with anyone who has questions regarding gay asylum at no charge.
BALDASSARE & MARA, LLC
570 Broad Street, Suite 900
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Office: 973.200.4066; Fax: 973.741.2482
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- United States Department of State, “2011 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Egypt” at page 31, available at:http://www.state.gov/
- Gender Across Borders, “Popular Uprisings: Marriage Equality and Gay Rights in Egypt” (February 24, 2011), available at: http://
www.genderacrossborders.com /2011/02/25/ popular-uprisings-marriage- equality-and-gay-rights-in -egypt/.
- LGBT Asylum News, “Egyptian dissident a double outsider” (June 10, 2010), available at:http://
madikazemi.blogspot.com/ 2010/06/ egyptian-dissident-double-o utsider.html.
- Gay Middle East, “For gay Egyptians, life online is the only choice” by Liam Stack (May 18, 2007), available at: http://
- Human Rights Watch, “In Time of Torture” (February 29, 2004), available athttp://www.hrw.org/sites/
- El Akhbar, “Egyptian Teenager Sentenced for Gay Internet Posting” (February 25, 2004), available at http://
- BBC News, “Egypt crackdown on homosexuals” (March 6, 2002), available at:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/
hi/programmes/ crossing_continents/ 1858469.stm.
The American Radiator Company Building, now home of the Church of Scientology of Denver, was originally constructed in 1916. It stands in the heart of the Ballpark Neighborhood Historic District in Lower Downtown, one block from Coors Field.
The building is among the finest examples of late 19th and early 20th century industrial architecture that proliferated in Denver as the city evolved into a major capital of the American West. It further epitomizes the trend of historic preservation that began in the 1980s and revitalized Lower Downtown into a thriving hub of the city.
After acquiring the landmark building, the Church meticulously preserved its historic features during renovation. Today the heritage of the American Radiator Company Building is fully intact—from the neoclassical marble entrance, terra cotta highlights and rooftop parapet, to the ornamental window grilles and oak-paneled entry hall.
Dedicated as the home of the Church of Scientology in June 2012, the landmark remains both a tribute to Denver’s past and a signpost to its future. – Scientology Denver
- Can the Rockies learn from their new neighbor, the Church of Scientology? – Westword – Wednesday, Jun 20 2012
- American Radiator Company Building – Denver Public Library – Digital Collections
Scientology views of homosexuality are based on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology. His statements about homosexuality have given rise to assertions from critics that Scientology promotes homophobia. These allegations are disputed by some Scientologists.
L. Ron Hubbard’s son Quentin Hubbard was homosexual. According to Atack (author of A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed), L. Ron Hubbard had repeatedly announced that his son Quentin would succeed him after his death, but Quentin died of an apparent suicide in 1976. – Wikipedia
Stranger than fiction.
IN the Morocco of the 1980s, where homosexuality did not, of course, exist, I was an effeminate little boy, a boy to be sacrificed, a humiliated body who bore upon himself every hypocrisy, everything left unsaid. By the time I was 10, though no one spoke of it, I knew what happened to boys like me in our impoverished society; they were designated victims, to be used, with everyone’s blessing, as easy sexual objects by frustrated men. And I knew that no one would save me — not even my parents, who surely loved me. For them too, I was shame, filth. A “zamel.”
Like everyone else, they urged me into a terrible, definitive silence, there to die a little more each day.
How is a child who loves his parents, his many siblings, his working-class culture, his religion — Islam — how is he to survive this trauma? To be hurt and harassed because of something others saw in me — something in the way I moved my hands, my inflections. A way of walking, my carriage. An easy intimacy with women, my mother and my many sisters. To be categorized for victimhood like those “emo” boys with long hair and skinny jeans who have recently been turning up dead in the streets of Iraq, their skulls crushed in.
The truth is, I don’t know how I survived. All I have left is a taste for silence. And the dream, never to be realized, that someone would save me. Now I am 38 years old, and I can state without fanfare: no one saved me.
I no longer remember the child, the teenager, I was. I know I was effeminate and aware that being so obviously “like that” was wrong. God did not love me. I had strayed from the path. Or so I was made to understand. Not only by my family, but also by the entire neighborhood. And I learned my lesson perfectly. So deep down, I tell myself they won. This is what happened.
I was barely 12, and in my neighborhood they called me “the little girl.” Even those I persisted in playing soccer with used that nickname, that insult. Even the teenagers who’d once taken part with me in the same sexual games. I was no kid anymore. My body was changing, stretching out, becoming a man’s. But others did not see me as a man. The image of myself they reflected back at me was strange and incomprehensible. Attempts at rape and abuse multiplied.
I knew it wasn’t good to be as I was. But what was I going to do? Change? Speak to my mother, my big brother? And tell them what, exactly?
It all came to a head one summer night in 1985. It was too hot. Everyone was trying in vain to fall asleep. I, too, lay awake, on the floor beside my sisters, my mother close by. Suddenly, the familiar voices of drunken men reached us. We all heard them. The whole family. The whole neighborhood. The whole world. These men, whom we all knew quite well, cried out: “Abdellah, little girl, come down. Come down. Wake up and come down. We all want you. Come down, Abdellah. Don’t be afraid. We won’t hurt you. We just want to have sex with you.”
They kept yelling for a long time. My nickname. Their desire. Their crime. They said everything that went unsaid in the too-silent, too-respectful world where I lived. But I was far, then, from any such analysis, from understanding that the problem wasn’t me. I was simply afraid. Very afraid. And I hoped my big brother, my hero, would rise and answer them. That he would protect me, at least with words. I didn’t want him to fight them — no. All I wanted him to say were these few little words: “Go away! Leave my little brother alone.”
But my brother, the absolute monarch of our family, did nothing. Everyone turned their back on me. Everyone killed me that night. I don’t know where I found the strength, but I didn’t cry. I just squeezed my eyes shut a bit more tightly. And shut, with the same motion, everything else in me. Everything. I was never the same Abdellah Taïa after that night. To save my skin, I killed myself. And that was how I did it.
I began by keeping my head low all the time. I cut all ties with the children in the neighborhood. I altered my behavior. I kept myself in check: no more feminine gestures, no more honeyed voice, no more hanging around women. No more anything. I had to invent a whole new Abdellah. I bent myself to the task with great determination, and with the realization that this world was no longer my world. Sooner or later, I would leave it behind. I would grow up and find freedom somewhere else. But in the meantime I would become hard. Very hard.
TODAY I grow nostalgic for little effeminate Abdellah. He and I share a body, but I no longer remember him. He was innocence. Now I am only intellect. He was naïve. I am clever. He was spontaneous. I am locked in a constant struggle with myself.
In 2006, seven years after I moved to France, and after my second book, “Le rouge du tarbouche” (the red of the fez), came out in Morocco, I, too, came out to the Moroccan press, in Arabic and French. Scandal, and support. Then, faced with my brother’s silence and my mother’s tears on the telephone, I published in TelQuel, the very brave Moroccan magazine, an open letter called “Homosexuality Explained to My Mother.” My mother died the next year.
I don’t know where I found the courage to become a writer and use my books to impose my homosexuality on the world of my youth. To do justice to little Abdellah. To never forget the trauma he and every Arab homosexual like him suffered.
Now, over a year after the Arab Spring began, we must again remember homosexuals. Arabs have finally become aware that they have to invent a new, free Arab individual, without the support of their megalomaniacal leaders. Arab homosexuals are also taking part in this revolution, whether they live in Egypt, Iraq or Morocco. They, too, are part of this desperately needed process of political and individual liberation. And the world must support and protect them.
LEEDS, England (Sept. 15) — England has been a thorn in the side of the Vatican since the days of Henry VIII. And Thursday’s planned papal visit — the first-ever state trip to Britain by any pontiff in history — isn’t likely to be any different. When Pope Benedict XVI arrives here for a four-day stay, he’s likely to find a more secular, belligerent Britain than ever before — a country just as ready to thumb its nose at papal authority as it was in the 16th century. Throngs of protesters are expected to greet him in Scotland, London and Birmingham, angry about the price tag for his trip, the church’s sex abuse scandal and its increasingly isolated stances on contraception, homosexuality and abortion. –Lauren Frayer, AOLnews Contributor
I’ll add California wine and ANYTHING owned by the Mormons. Andrew Adam Caldwell said on Facebook: If we are serious about marriage equality, all “domestic partners” should figure out exactly what dollar-amount of benefits they are losing out on in federal benefits (and in non-gay-marriage/DP states–state benefits) and then REFUSE TO PAY exactly that amount in federal (and state/local) taxes. Don’t refuse to pay ALL taxes, simply deduct the amount we are denied. Call it out as taxation without representation.