In North Africa, Gays Light a Candle for Visibility
LGBT Algerians are today celebrating the new “National Day for LGBT People,” nicknamed “TenTen” because of its date (10/10).
Throughout Algeria, a country which sends homosexuals to prison, they will light candles at 8pm, put them in their windows and distribute photographs of the candles on the Internet.
“TenTen” was an idea launched among a small circle of activists five years ago. Now it is a ‘don’t-miss date.’
Organized by Abu Nawas (which takes its name from the famous Arabic gay poet from the eighth century, who is buried in Baghdad) and GLA (the forum of gays and lesbians from Algeria), it will also be the launch date for a new project the Alouen association.
All these groups are based outside Algeria to avoid their leaders being arrested.
Algerian criminal law and prevailing social mores are used to justify vigilante honor killings. LGBT people are often abused and beaten up by family, neighbors or the Algerian police.
Last year a gay Iman was jailed.
In 2010 the day’s theme was ‘hope.’ This year, it is ‘mobilization.’
Events such as dinners, film screenings and discussions — with locations kept secret until the last minute — are planned.
Abu Nawas will inaugurate an LGBT library and issue an appeal for books to enable their community to read about themselves, something that is so simple abroad but is a dream in Algeria, as LGBT-themed books are banned. Three hundred books have already been collected through two collection points, in Marseille and Brussels.
Algerian censorship even bans the press and other forms of communicative media or popular culture from endorsing LGBT rights.
Morocco will have its own national day, on October 19, organized by the Kif-kif association. The date commemorates the anniversary of Leila Amrouche, a Moroccan lesbian who, under the pressure and denial of society, chose to end her life.
Algeria has produced one of the most prominent and popular Arabic-language blogs for the LGBT community, focusing on everything from human rights and politics to entertainment – Zizoumag.