#15 2014

The way we were

“Men are dragged out from their beds, stripped naked and made to parade the streets. People laugh and point at them. Their pictures appear online with lewd headlines, while the world sleeps and turns a blind eye to this; this is not big enough to grab the world’s headlines.”

In January this year, Nigeria signed an anti-HBTQ law which criminalizes public displays of affection between same-sex couples and restricts the work of organizations defending gay people. This law forced the Nigerian writer Jude Dibia to leave the country. His works are known for their controversial themes that address a number of issues from sexuality, gender roles, race to the stigma of HIV/AIDS in modern day Africa. In this short story he describes the though everyday life of a homosexual man in Nigeria.

Resolution on anti-LGBTQI legislation which restricts the right to freedom of expression

At the PEN International congress in Kyrgyzstan in October this year, many of the discussions concerned the new wave of anti-LGBTQI legislation around the world. PEN found that such laws represent one of the most serious threats to freedom of expression today and adopted the resolution below. At the

In search of an “outsider”

The Russian law criminalizing “Propaganda of homosexuality” isn’t just targeting minorities. The law, and homophobia in general, tends to make real problems invisible, as well as covering the real changes in a society where

Living on the rim of a volcano

LGBT-persons are increasingly being cast as “enemies of society” in contemporary Russia. But as the activist Svetlana Zakharova writes, the new law prohibiting “propaganda of homosexuality” has also had the effect of making the ongoing persecution

No Uhuru yet for the Zimbabwean LGBTI movement

LGBTI people in Zimbabwe are regularly harassed by the regime. During teh 2013 election the abuse escalated when president Robert Mugabe tried to win voters by promising that if he won there would be “hell for gays”.

“Living my life naturally was considered a ‘crime’”

Being gay in Iran has a very high price. Especially if you are a writer and open about your sexuality. The 21-year-old Payam Feili was the first writer in Iran who openly wrote about his sexual orientation, in a number of

Poems in exile

Iranian poet, LGBT and human rights activist Elham Malekpoor has published several collections of poetry, most of which have been censored in Iran. She particularly deals with child labour and queer rights. Due to the threats

Before the lunar eclipse

Iran is a country full of paradoxes. While the state has enacted some of the strictest laws in the world when it comes to same-sex relationships, sex change for homosexuals has become a thriving industry encouraged by the

One afternoon in Bishkek

At the PEN International Congress in Kyrgyzstan, British journalist and writer Juliet Jacques gave a speech on the situation for transsexuals in Thatchers Great Britain, when “section 28”, a law similar to todays’ ”anti-

The legislation in Greece is catching up with reality

The situation for LGBT people in Greece is complex. One the one hand legislation is outlawing hate speech directed at minorities. On the other, violence and threats are commonplace. There is an important battle raging

Threats against LGBT people is a threat to our freedom of speech

What may not be spoken about is always very important. This truism is known to writers who have surprised themselves with having written something controversial while believing that they were merely depicting unusual human predicaments, some unknown section of society, or simply their own everyday life. Of course, every now and then art seeks conflict and aims to provoke; naturally writers sometimes want to shock and irritate the readers – this is part of the essence of modern culture. Literature, however, becomes really threatening when writers simply reflect a reality that is taboo to talk about or simply one that may not be revealed. The questions that unfailingly arise are: why may this particular issue not be addressed? What is at stake here?

When one begins to speak of things that have been regarded as out of bounds the reaction seems to follow a set course that is the same disregarding the particular topic. Whether one has written about slavery, women’s rights, or LGBT issues – no matter the topic, the reaction to it seems to follow the same trajectory. The first reaction is usually to downplay the topic: it is not important and we need not look into it. The second reaction is one of ridicule: just imagine the consequences if we were to free all the slaves! And what would happen if women were given the right to vote? It is so obviously impossible and it is against the laws of nature. Then comes the more dangerous phase: the violence, the imprisonments, and the threats. These do not come immediately but rather at a time when freedom is usually already beyond reach.