Progress in recognizing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people at the United Nations in New York and in Geneva may seem detached from the realities faced by LGBTQ people in the Middle East and North Africa, or Mena, region. Activists there, however, are navigating the UN human-rights system as part of their advocacy repertoire, with notable success.
At the same time, a small group of nations at the UN is responding to advocacy efforts and challenging the notion that Arabic-speaking states in the region have homogenous views on LGBTQ rights. Together, these developments are making a difference in linking national and international progress for the rights of LGBTQ people in the North Africa/Middle East area.
As we approach the renewal of the mandate of the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, whose creation had faced fierce opposition from a number of countries, especially in the Mena region, and amid rising opposition to the human rights of LGBTQ people even in countries heralded as champions of such equality, the few countries in Mena breaking rank on the rights of LGBTQ people could be a game-changer.
A recent report from the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality and OutRight Action International, nonprofit groups based in Beirut and New York, respectively, documents strategies that LGBTQ organizations and activists have used to win legal and social progress in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. The findings show incredibly creative strategies, such as feminist organizing, artistic expression and engagement with a range of UN mechanisms. Read more via PassBlue