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What's gay life really like in the Middle East? - WATCH

2016-08-01
Khader Abu Seir recently starred in a documentary called "Oriented", which delves into the lives of LGBT people in the Middle East. Now, he's opened up about being a gay Arab-Israeli, his thoughts on the "luxuries" that Western gay men enjoy, and defending both his sexual and national identities, in a new interview. Speaking to Israeli website Good, Seir highlighted the differences between LGBT struggles in the Western world and the Middle East, noting that issues of equal marriage are a "luxury" not afforded to Middle Eastern LGBT people: "These are people who are coming from privileged countries. I don’t underestimate their struggle, and I’m sure that it’s super-hard to have a child with a surrogate, or get married. But to me, it’s just something that I could dream of. "Israel/Tel Aviv is well-known as the gay capital of the Middle East. But until today, we don’t have one law to protect us. We cannot get married in Israel. We cannot have a surrogate in Israel. As gays, we don’t have any rights inside the only democracy in the Middle East". Oriented follows the lives of three gay Arab-Israelis who are fighting for sexual and national liberation Khader also seemed to dispel assumptions that the majority of the Arab world is anti LGBT. Speaking about his relationship to the wider Arab community, he said: "I identify with almost 80 percent of the Arab world because there is at least 20 percent that I cannot even relate to. I’m talking about fanatic Islam and I’m talking about Muslims that are homophobic. "But 80 percent of the Arab world today are fighting the same fight that Europe and America are fighting, the common people who just want to live in peace. I can relate to that totally". Earlier this year, when Omar Mateen opened fire on pulse nightclub, many responded with anti-Islam hatred. Speaking about the fallout from the attack, Khader said it "was so sad because we are Muslims and we are part of the LGBT community and you are calling for killing all of us". Oriented, the film that Seir stars in, follows the lives of three gay Palestinian friends who set up a non-violent, cultural resistance movement fighting for gender and national equality. Watch the trailer below:

Meanwhile, we spoke to Iraq's only openly LGBT activist, Amir Ashour, about fighting for LGBT equality in the Middle East in Attitude's August issue, which is available now.

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Read Amir's story in the new issue of Attitude, available to download now from pocketmags.com/attitude. It’s in shops now, and print copies are available to order from newsstand.co.uk. More stories: Gogglebox’s Stephen Webb talks wedding plans and why it’s all about the rings Joe Jonas reveals which brother is most well-endowed – WATCH