Friday, May 9, 2014

The Gay Spring in Afghanistan, Iran and India

Published in Diplomat Magazine on May 9, 2014

In the past year, even as Nigeria, Uganda and Russia have legislated anti-gay measures, civil society in Afghanistan, Iran and India have been on the cultural offensive to promote LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning) rights.

In Afghanistan, my pioneering coming out on Facebook last August has become engrained in the popular culture of a collectivist nation that still believes being gay is against Islam. Since I started my campaign, millions of Afghans have heard me talk on the airwaves or have read my words in print or on the web. While LGBT rights in Afghanistan are virulently resisted, they are no longer a foreign concept. Six months ago, I endorsed Dr. Ashraf Ghani for president of Afghanistan in this year’s election and since then LGBTIQ Afghans have mobilized a rainbow bloc to vote for the former academic. As Afghanistan heads for a runoff election, gay Afghans now have a voice and visibility when a year ago they were dormant and had nothing.

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