Message from Executive Director of Mesahat Foundation on the launch of the new website

On September 5, 2016, Mesahat Foundation for Sexual and Gender Diversity celebrated its first anniversary. Mesahat Foundation has worked since its establishment to focus on leadership and building the capacity of existing or prospective LGBT activists in Egypt and Sudan through focusing on Holistic security issues.

In many countries around the world (e.g., Egypt and Sudan), the LGBT community members face increasing hostility and aggression such as mass arrests by local authorities, restrictive laws-including sodomy laws-, street attacks and hate crimes, systematic elimination from the cultural and social life….etc. And not to forget that family disowning and the loss of reputation in the society remains the greatest threat to most LGBTQI community members.

Most of LGBTQI individuals in the Nile Valley Area (Egypt & Sudan) do not have the efficient resources or the political influence to defend themselves or fight for their rights; and in the absence of these resources and the lack of a proper experience the groups that forms to defend LGBTQI rights in our countries often find themselves face difficult responsibilities to accomplish their mission to the fullest. In the other hand in places where gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender, queer and intersex people are most in need, the mainstream human rights society often fails to offer meaningful support for many reasons, the most important is the lack of adequate knowledge around homosexuality & trans sexuality issues and/or the fear from the authorities in case homosexuality is publicly included in their work programs and topped the agenda of human rights work in the country, which may lead to the closure of these human rights associations and suspension of their financial support. In this context and in the absence of the local support for these vulnerable populations, a strategic planning to build the capacities of LGBTQI leadership in order to fight for their rights and to mitigate the threats of widespread violence they face , as well as providing appropriate support to individual activists and groups working on the issue is strongly required.

LGBT mobilization in our countries need lots of strategic planning and organized efforts to spread awareness around the growing violence and discrimination directed at LGBT people in this region and around the world.  LGBT continuous work by groups or individuals in both Egypt and Sudan have helped to expose a pattern of serious and widespread human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Violence and discrimination against LGBT are often perpetrated with total impunity, and when victims seek protection and justice the result is all too often further victimization.

Within this framework “Mesahat Foundation for Sexual and Gender Diversity” has been established in September 5th 2015 in order to develop and work strategically in creating and supporting youth leadership that can successfully lead the Queer struggle in the Nile Valley Area “Egypt and Sudan” .Mesahat will play a great role in identifying and reducing security risks and eliminating the social & cultural obstacles that faced by sexual and gender minorities in the Nile Valley Area (Egypt & Sudan) and creating appropriate means and tools for LGBTQI Activists to carry on their work safely and contribute to creating a nourished and effective Queer societies in the region.

And as part of our plans to improve, sustain, and raise the efficiency of our work we are delighted to share with you our newly redesigned website, with a bold new look and enhanced navigation experience. We will be rolling out new pages and functionality over the coming months, and hope that you enjoy visiting our new website. Going forward, we promise to continually expand our online content and keep you updated with the latest information about LGBT issue in the Nile Valley Area (Egypt & Sudan) ,and we'll provide a lot of useful resources and links that may help you in the development of your activism; So check back often, and connect with us on your social networks.

Finally; on behalf of Mesahat team I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the development of this new site by donating money or technical effort and/or offer their advices. And our special thanks goes to Squarespace and Out in Tech who were teaming up to build websites for 10 international organizations fighting to protect LGBTQ+ rights in their home countries, where this community faces legal challenges and/or persecution.

Best regards,
Azza Sultan
Executive Director of Mesahat Foundation                                     

Mesahat Foundation Statement on Orlando Massacre

On Sunday, June 12, 2016 an armed American man, of Afghan Muslim origins, "Omar Mateen" killed 50 people and injured 53 others in a Gay nightclub. Orlando, Florida USA, This heinous inhumane crime, the deadliest in modern American history has led to a global wave of grief and rage.

We, Mesahat Foundation for gender and sexual diversity, condemn this crime and send our condolences to the families and friends of the victims and for all gender and sexual minorities in different parts of the world. We stress the significance ofOrlando as a turning point to continue the struggle and solidarity for the LGBTQI rights in all over the world. We understand The Pulse Club massacre as a hate crime based on the sexual orientation and gender identities of the victims while mindful that there are other aspects surrounding this incident, including the increase of violent incidents in the United States of America made possible through the easy accessibility of legal arms purchases and increase of persecution and discrimination incidents against ethnic minorities in the United States.....etc.

Mesahat foundation as an organization working for gender and sexual minorities in the Nile Valley (Egypt and Sudan) through the use of the holistic and integrated security approach which particularly include working on issues of psychological, emotional, and spiritual well-being of LGBTI community members; we believe religion is one of the components of the identity of many members of our community, as it is also one of the causes of psychological conflicts for many of them because of misperceptions and the traditional discourse of religion in general and the Islamic religion in particular in our societies, that views which necessarily believe that a person cannot be religious and homosexual at the same time, let alone being a Muslim .These are the same perceptions that see in what “ Omar Mateen” did as a heroic act that deserves to be celebrated in this life and praised in heaven, whether its source is from Islam or any other religion.

We, Mesahat, dissociate ourselves in our local context from slipping into the problematic of binary adoption of the hostile rhetoric of Islam as the official representative of the suppression in the name of God and His divine sacred blessing or the adoption of speech defending Islam as a religion of tolerance and love. We refuse to see this solely as a “religious” matter and hold that this crisis takes place at the contemporary intersection between religious, economic, social, cultural and political forces.

We understand that racism towards Muslims is a reality in many regions of the world such as in America and Europe and that the struggle against Islamophobia and fear of Muslims is a legitimate struggle in this context, as important as the struggle against homophobia and Transphobia or any other social, economic or political abuses. They all intersect with each other to converge in the end to the importance of the struggle for justice and human dignity anywhere in the world.

With saying this we do not lose sight of the importance of not sliding also behind the discourse of racist speeches that values our identity and our affiliations- even if based on geography or culture or the historical context-to the Islamic nation and thus compel us to feel ashamed and need to apologize for this incident just for the fact that the identity of the killer who carried out this crime intersect in some way or another with the religious affiliations of some of us.

We urge all LGBTI Muslims in our context who would like to come to terms with their religiosity, identities and sexual orientation to adopt progressive Islamic discourse, which celebrates diversity and difference and criticize the perceptions of traditional Islamists, including their perceptions of prohibiting homosexuality and we call LGBTI individuals who have chosen to take out the religion from the equation, to at least condemn this incident in light of its implications as a violent and hateful incident against members of this big LGBTI family without slipping into hate speech hostile to Islam and Muslims.

This incident despite of being a humane crisis in the first place, but it showed the extent of political schizophrenia suffered by our governments’ speeches sponsoring the same traditional religious discourse in the region. As Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait have all rushed to condemn the crime of Orlando and labeled it with terrorism and acquitted Islam from it. These same governments that do not stop from arresting and torturing queer people and putting them in prison and executing them in some instances. Yet, they believe that diplomacy and the game of interests impose a blind eye to the fact that this incident is closely linked to violence and discrimination against gender and sexual minorities all over the world.

We believe that in this political inconsistency there is an opportunity for pressure and pushing our local activism agenda to the global struggle and that might be on its priority list at the moment to demand for the importance to appoint an independent United Nations expert on SOGI issues to attract more attention to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity all over the world.

Together against violence.... Together against hate crimes ... Together against homophobia and Transphobia!