Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Watchful Eye on Egypt
Last week the world was watching as the tri-decade rule of dictator Hosni Mubarak ended. Even more miraculous was that there was limited violence and bloodshed. Peaceful activism was the rule not the exception and thankfully government forces exercised restraint.
Still, it is no secret that LGBT citizens in Egypt and throughout much of the Arab world are not officially recognized by ruling political parties, opposition movements or even the general public. Homosexuality and cross-dressing continue to be severely stigmatized in these countries. Interviewing LGBT individuals from the middle east for our play Rights of Passage, has consistently verified that protecting traditional Islamic values and "public morality" remain fundamental social weapons against homosexuals. This reality continues to stimulate isolation, fear, persecution and incarceration based on sexual orientation.
So it is with a watchful eye that we observe progress towards democracy in the region. While there is much to accomplish in the way of forming a new government and addressing the many needs of its citizens we can only hope that basic human rights for all will be a significant part of the conversation.