Don’t let The Gays into my country!

Reblogged by my dear friend Hasan, on this link: Don’t let The Gays into my country!.

This will be my profile photo on Twitter and Facebook because:

 

I believe that all citizens should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression.

 

I am outraged by the arbitrary arrests in Dekwaneh on Apr 21st 2013 where a transwoman and 3 men were detained, and subjected to verbal, physical and sexual abuse, their nude photos were taken by cell phones and sent to the media. The Mayor was present through all that and he then confesses to his crimes on national TV. All this is documented. No investigations or disciplinary measures were taken against the mayor by authorities.

 

I am disturbed by what our Minister of Defence has just announced: “Lebanon is against perversion (his chosen term for homosexuality), which is considered a crime according to Lebanese law. I wonder, now that France allowed same-sex marriage would we allow them to enter our country”. How could I be more knowledgeable about our laws than our Defence Minister. Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code penalize any sexual act “against nature” by up to one year in prison and has been historically used to criminalize homosexuality. In 2009, a Lebanese judge in Batroun ruled against the use of article 534 to prosecute homosexuals. He clearly flaunts his ignorance when he questions whether Lebanon should allow The Gays to enter our holy nation, as if the door has been closed and the recent achievements in France on the human rights front will open that door!!! I stand speechless.

 

I am encouraged to speak out because I know how many want to and how little support they have to do so.

 

This is an adaptation of the Lebanese flag. The red says “7okouk” Arabic for “Rights”. I also like how the two red bars form an Equal sign. I wish they could have added to the flag what would represent the rights of womyn, foreign workers and refugees, all of whom are also at risk to suffer similar brutality in our rotten system.

 

I will keep this photo till May 17 2013: The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)

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Bleeding in the drain

Couple of weeks ago, I attended a first-aid workshop for critical cases; not your usual first aid workshop of how to do a CPR or how to care for a strained ankle, but the one where you learn how to deal with a gunshot and the aftermath of an explosion. I was surprised to learn that when you are in a critical situation; and you have to save someone else’s life; the first thing you do is actually to stop the bleeding, rather than opening the airway of this person to breath. “Breathing takes a secondary stage after stopping the bleeding,” the trainer told us, “when you lose blood, you’re losing life; and the sooner you can stop the bleeding, the better chances this person has of survival.”

I learned that day a number of techniques to stop the bleeding of a person who is suffering from a gunshot to the limbs, in the torso or in the upper body; then I learned how to clear the airway of this person and make sure they will survive. 

“The body of one person holds up to 7 letters of blood,” the trainer explained, “you might think that’s a lot and that you’d have time to work on the airway first, but empty couple of bottles of water on the floor, and you’d discover that losing all of your blood is a pretty easy thing that might take seconds if not dealt with right away.” 

A month or two ago, Beirut saw a tragedy that shacked the lives of everyone that witnessed it. A car bomb caused a number of deaths. Up to 110 people were injured in that explosion, which took place in the upper-scale Achrafieh area of Beirut. The injured were rushed to four different hospitals around the city. 

That day, and among reports of the casualties and while I’m busy reporting on the story; I couldn’t take my mind off the images I see on all the Lebanese channels of wounded people carried to hospitals, my friend, a nurse in one of the hospitals, sent me hysterical messages on Whatsapp, telling me stories of children injured, people arriving to the hospital gasping their last breathes and of families crying for help. On Facebook, calls to donate blood started taking place from all the Lebanese pages I follow, and all my friends started announcing their participation in a movement to donate as much blood as possible to the people in need. 

My boyfriend and I dropped everything and head out to a hospital nearby, we stood there in line of people donating blood while I’m still carrying my laptop and working. When our turn came, we walked to a room where they asked us to fill a form before we donate the blood.

Among the questions, I remember, I saw one that asks if I had sex with other men in the past six months; I automatically checked it as a No; for reasons I forgot; my boyfriend, on the other hand, was honest about his history, and checked it as a Yes.

We went home feeling that we did our part.

Today, while browsing the internet, I discover an article written by Donner Sang Computer, a blood donating organization, where I discovered that as gay men, I am not allowed to donate blood, and the blood I donated most probably won’t be used. 

Their justification of the matter was simply that: 

Because monogamy (having only one partner at a time) in this community has been decreasing over the years, mostly in European and American countries, while on the other hand promiscuity (having sexual intercourse with multiple partners over the course of one’s life, being unrestrained in sexual behavior) has been increasing.

One U.S. study reports that “the average homosexual has between 20 and 106 partners per year. The average heterosexual has 8 partners in a lifetime.” – Bell, A. and Weinberg, M. Homosexualities: a Study of Diversity Among Men and Women. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978.

The same study adds that “Of homosexuals questioned in one study reports that43% admit to 500 or more partners in a lifetime28% admit to 1000 or more in a lifetime, and of these people, 79% say that half of those partners are total strangers, and 70% of those sexual contacts are one night stands (or, as one homosexual admits in the film “The Castro”, one minute stands). Also, it is a favorite past-time of many homosexuals to go to “cruisy areas” and have anonymous sex.”

Men who have had sex with other men (MSM), at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for the presence of and transmission of certain infectious diseases, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.

They have, according to the American Red Cross, an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first time blood donors and 8000 times higher than repeat blood donors.

Now I remember why I did not honestly fill the form they gave me. I had this conversation about the same matter years ago in Egypt, and I remember my friend telling me that if I donated blood while stating that I am a gay person, this blood will be considered unusable; and it will most probably be destroyed.

 

Can you imagine? A litter or two of my blood, the most important part of my body system, will be destroyed instead of used to the good of others! It will go down the drain, or be burned. But it will never see the light of day, or be used to deliver the message I went there to donate it in the first place for.

My response to this article; which basically says that I am an animal, a sex-hungry beast, and not human enough to donate blood was the following: 

This is both outrageous and offensive. I am a homosexual man who checks for his AIDS status at least twice a year, despite the fact that I am in a committed relationship with my partner and that I have never in my life had unprotected sex except with a long term partner after we both check our HIV status together.
I do understand the limitations you have and I do understand why the banks in the hospitals do not accept “gay” blood; regardless of how homophobic these rules are; however, the way you tried to justify for yourself such actions are both offensive and bigot; picturing all homosexual men as animals hungry for sex and going on “one minute stands”! Seriously? Did you seriously think that this is your way of clarifying the topic?!
Your behavior is why I always have to give false information whenever I donate blood (which I do twice a year as well) on the form and deny have sex with other men; because I am doing good for humanity; and I am sure of who I am and what I do and what is my HIV status; while your limitations are killing my act of kindness towards others.
I’m a proud gay man who lives in a committed relationship and thankful for a great health. My best friends are other single men who might have one night stands; but at least they are informed about the STIs and are aware of how they protect themselves. Both of us, the two stereotypes of gay men, are putting a pound of our souls in your hands when we donate blood; hoping that it would go to another person in need; not down the drain!
Shame on you!

Fight discrimination! Fight homophobia! Fight those who claim we cannot be part of the society’s tragedies! Fight those who claim to be angels of mercy, yet when we give them parts of our own bodies for the good of others; they would refuse it. 

Question: I’m planning to donate my body organs when I pass away! Will they take them? Or a gay heart is not a good heart?  

Politicizing the Homophobia

As I walk in the streets of Damascus, trying to forget the sleepless previous night by listening with half a brain to the chitchat of couple of lesbian friends; I notice a garbage box on the corner with pro-government graffiti on it. The scene is highly normal these days in Syria. As you get to see the Al-Jazeera logo on most of the garbage boxes and public bathrooms around Damascus in what I consider an immature move from whoever wrote it. However, what caught my attention was the content of this graffiti rather than the presence of it.

“Donate to the Arab League; Al-Ar’our is a faggot”

Adnan Al-Ar’our is a Syrian Islamic and opposition controversial political figure who has been attacked over the past nine months on public Syrian TV for being what they assume a homosexual man. The now famous Addounia TV even interviewed his son who cried on TV claiming that his father is a homosexual man (they used the word Lotty on TV, which is Arabic for faggot). The son, however, claimed later on after he and his family left Syria that he was forced to say these stuff on TV. Interestingly; the figure is considered questionable for both pro and anti-government in Syria and both sides has their doubts about his work and ideals.
Regardless of the political calculations of this situation (and the sexual orientation of Al-Ar’our), what really got my attention is using the fact that religious traditional Syria has a trend of homophobia in its own fabric for political gains can be seriously damaging for the homosexual society here in Syria regardless of the outcome of the political struggles here in the country. Whichever party taking lead in the country in the next period, it’s going to distance itself from supporting any glimpse of gay rights in the country not to enforce the rumours of homosexual political figures in the eyes of the mainstream society.

These damaging acts has become a well-know tactic the government-owned TVs are using; which started back in 2011 with the Gay Girl in Damascus story; which was reported on Syrian TV as a conspiracy plot by the American intelligence to plant an American man pretending to be a Sohaqyya (the female version of faggot in Arabic), who is reporting false stories of an imaginary uprising in the country and trying to introduce concepts of lesbianism to the virtuous country of Syria, who, naturally, has no gay people in it; except for Al-Ar’our, that is.

Even gay people are influenced with these stories; as we’re after all part of the society in Syria; we, in the LGBTQ community here has all colours of political views; we have the pro-government, the revolutionary and the ones who just want to be left alone. What is interesting is that internal homophobia in the homosexual society is playing its tricks with the pro-government people as well. A friend of mine told me a story about a one night stand he had with a pro-government man who, after a hot sweaty sex, had a political conversation with my friend (as you do in Syria these days, it’s the new cuddling method). “Al-Ar’our is a demon; he is a faggot, you know; he gets fucked up the ass all the time,” the guy said to my friend, “do we want a political and religious leader who gets fucked up the ass on our hands! he is a shame to us, beautiful traditional people.” My friend did not find much words to reply to this guy; especially that the guy was earlier that night getting fucked up the ass and, as my friend claims, highly enjoying it.

The homosexual story, also, has been caughting the eyes of reporters everywhere in Syria as well; it is becoming the new fascade in the media; news articles about a transgender woman who is ‘asking for help’ to finish her operation was published on a yellow-newspaper called Salab and Mojab; another article; published lately on Baladna, a very respectiful newspaper in Syria, interviewing a number of queer people under negative light; drawing a picture of drugs, sex and prostitution for the homosexual community in Syria; what was interesting about this article; is the fact that the reporter who wrote it connected what he called ‘an increasing number of gay men in Syria’ to the fact that the political situation caused a lot of straight boys not to get married; then they become easy preys for sick and criminally charged homosexual men. A radio show interviewing a 17-year-old boy who identifies as a gay person haras the boy to say that gay people are like women and that the society should accept us for being effiminie and straight-men hunters. We are becoming a target; and it hurts to see the public opening their eyes to homosexuality under such negative views. We do not need more attention; and we do not need to be dragged to such political parade and become an easy target for media reporters who has their own political propagenda to sell.

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