Sunday, May 4, 2014

Preventing disaster is better leadership than mourning after catastrophe hits

I’m annoyed by a few messages I’ve received from Afghans who try to portray me as an insensitive person by saying things like: "We are in mourning over the loss of over 2000 lives in Badakhshan and you are busy promoting gay rights."

It’s ...deeply unfortunate what happened in Badakhshan and I cannot bring the deceased back to life but I can and will be proactive to prevent future disasters and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a wasteland.

Over the years, I’ve written extensively about the negative impacts of climate change and other environmental hazards and campaigned to bring awareness when I worked at The Earth Institute and the United Nations. As a matter of fact, I’ve also been informing economists like Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky and policymakers since 2009 that environmental issues in Afghanistan (whether it be drought, flooding, lack of access to water, and soil erosion) is a source of much of the internal conflict and instability.

Now, when we are talking about gender minorities (the right of children, LGBTIQ, and women), this critical issue impacts the whole Afghan nation. There are probably hundreds of thousands if not millions of LGBTIQ in Afghanistan and they are your closeted children, parents, siblings, and extended relatives. For this reason, homophobia and transphobia affects all 30 million Afghans since every Afghan household has an LGBTIQ member. If gays are estimated to be at least 10% of a population, then probably hundreds of LGBTIQ died in the village in Badakhshan who you denied rights to be who they are in their life but now weep for in their death? That's being disingenuous, fake, hypocritical and insincere.

Every day, a homosexual, transgender, and intersex person is born in Afghanistan and they will continue to be born a century and millennium later since it’s a natural part of humanity to be queer. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan LGBTIQ have been denied justice from cradle to grave and suffer from lack of love and persecution from their families, the state, and society.

Why do Afghans wait for a catastrophe to hit and then react in grief? Why not proactively work to eliminate the misery in a person’s life and amplify happiness for the collective good of the nation?

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