NOH8 EGYPT FIGHTS FOR LGBT RIGHTS
NoH8 Egypt is an initiative that aims to stop hatred and violence against minority groups. They promote freedom of speech, encourage tolerance and acceptance, and demand gender equality. They are the voice of the different religions in the region, and the voice of all sexual minorities and orientations.
NoH8 Egypt is against any kind of discrimination toward people of different skin colors, languages, cultures, political views, genders and sexual orientations. They encourage their country to promote love and respect.
Spectra Project volunteer, Momen, sat down with the founder and CEO of NoH8 Egypt for an in-depth conversation about the current political situation in the country, and the status of the LGBTQ community in Egypt.
After the uprising in Egypt and the change of government, the country has become very unstable. Also, the circumstances became very dire for minorities — specifically women and LGBTQ people. It is very dangerous to start a movement asking for those two groups’ rights. In fact, by doing so, you put yourself under direct threat, and expose yourself to hate speech and crimes. The NoH8 Egypt movement has received multiple intimidating messages, but they are standing strong and will not let that affect them. “We ignore all the hate that we receive; sometimes it is hard and that is why we take breaks,” says Mr. Hamed, the founder and CEO, “we are trying to get to peoples’ hearts.”
Mr. Hamed expressed deep concern regarding the current political shift in the U.S. He recalls that: “America under Obama’s cabinet used to put huge pressure on the decision makers in Egypt when it comes to LGBT issues, womens’ rights, etc.” Now, with president-elect Donald Trump almost in the White House, many people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are troubled with what could happen to international and foreign policies: “Now we have a homophobe in The White House, nothing scary at all — maybe just deadly.”
These policies will not just affect people in the U.S., since Egypt and the U.S. are closely linked. Many are afraid that things will get harder for women and LGBTQ people. They are worried that the new administration will not put pressure on the decision makers in Egypt to advance human rights, as they did before. “It is hard now and we believe it is going to be even harder. The decision makers won’t have red lights from Mr. Trump”, Mr. Hamed said.
Despite this opposition, and the changing political atmosphere, the NoH8 group firmly believes that change is coming to the MENA region. They believe that women and the LGBTQ community will be able to live in peace and be part of the Egyptian society, accepted as they are, and live among their families and peers. However, to do that some members of the group have to protect their identities in fear of retaliation and/or even death.
“Personally, as ‘Hamed’ I don’t care. I can protect myself, but for transgender people and the other LGBT teens it could be very dangerous, especially when there is no support from family or friends.” Mr. Hamed added.
Change is coming to the region, and we are honored to be part of the catalyst that brings that change. The road will be tough, dangerous, and lonely at times, but we have faith that we can change people’s hearts and minds, and win their love. In the end, all humans deserve to be loved equally. Whenever you feel down, just remember Ellen DeGeneres’ words: “Just keep swimming.” Many people like Mr. Hamed are suffering every day because they are different; however, fighting for a better future is a worthy cause — to live in a world of peace, love and unity.
Read the story on Medium here.
Interview by: Momen Sabry
Adapted by: Subhi Nahas
Edited by: Mark Averett