In 1994 a Middle East republic created a decree for laws title “Section eleven adultery, defamation; corruption of the moral” an article that follows: Homosexuality is the contact of one man to another through his posterior; both sodomites whether males or females are punished with whipping of one hundred strokes if not married. It is admissible to reprimand it by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year punishment by stoning to death if married (Presidency, 1994). As exacting as it sounds these are laws run by government in today’s world. It is 2018 and I still cannot believe acts like this exist around humanity. You are wondering why am I writing about homosexual laws in other countries and my answer is very simple, FRIENDSHIP.
It is now the beginning of November, almost 3 months since I came to India. The first 6 weeks I had time to wonder around, get to know Mysore and start my research project with a wonderful team. I have meet people from all the country, spend time with Fulbright fellows and interacted with other foreigner that decide to leave home and to join others to immerge in the world of Yoga. I have made new friends, assisted birthdays and cultural celebrations making me feel at home. I enjoy spending time with my co-workers and love every single moment of my research.
In addition to get used to a culture with different ideas, opinions and a slight difference in vocabulary definitions, I also meet a person that have showed me how it is to be a minority in India, specially coming from a Middle East country. My new friend is a Gay man, a student and economically family dependent. Because of his culture and Muslim religion there is no one in his family or friends circle that knows his sexual preference. I have been around his friends for the past two weeks, and I can understand why he hides his sexual orientation. When meeting with his friends I heard the word faggot, homosexual, lesbian and transgender in four to five different languages. I have stopped myself from insulting people from the horrible things they said about my community, but I restricted myself from making any comments to protect my friend from rejection and confrontation between him and those around him. As someone that is outspoken, it has been energy consuming and even exhausting to seat and interact with people that in there on way are very intelligent for many topics, but ignorant when it comes to diversity.
After a week of sharing anecdotes and life stories, I noticed that our friendship became stronger. At that moment I decided to start asking questions about his religion, family and life style, but all related to homosexual topics. My first conversation was about how religion sees homosexuality in the Middle East. When asking this question, I notice he took his time, thought about his answer and started by saying that in “Gods eyes he was the devil”. His answer was so impacting that I thought that he believed his own answer. The existence of severe penalties, including death, for people found guilty of homosexual acts in many Muslim nations suggests that religious authorities in these countries may be particularly likely to interpret religious precepts as proscribing homosexuality (Helie, 2004). I assume that because of these penalties and religions believes people like my new friend have complications accepting who they are.
Not only it is has been a difficult situation for him to accept himself or try to talk to his family about his sexual preference, but even after moving to India it has been challenging to be open to his country friends. On November 3, 2018 my friend had a small get together to celebrate an Indian festival. That night we had a few intense conversations and one of the conversations was about gay men. Hearing a group of Middle Eat guys hating and diminishing gays made me desperate and disappointed. Desperate, because I couldn’t be myself and defend my community, and sad because I knew my friend was hurting. One of the reasons why I did not exchange ideas with the group was because I didn’t want my friend to be affected in any way. I had to stop for a few minutes walked away and remind myself that I have a home back in the US, but my friend was going to stay behind with people that probably will start rejecting him or harassing him because of having a physical or spiritual relationship with men. Even though, I am researching the LGBT community in Mysore I do understand that others are not in my same position, were I am free to be who I want to be. I understood that my new friend is part of that percentage were homosexuality still in the shadows of societal repression. The conversation ended with a racist comment by one of his friends saying: “Homosexuals are disgusting, and I will never want to be next to one”. When this comment was put out in the air, I looked at my friend and saw how the world around him was negatively impacting his life.
The next day we decided to meet at my friend place for lunch. We talk, eat and enjoyed each other’s company. After 2 hours of great conversation he try to apologies for his friends behavior, but before he even finished his sentence I stopped him and told him not to worry because he was not responsible for others ignorance and lack of education. Our conversations were so honest that my friend started feeling confident and comfortable talking about his life. The Arab family is the dominant social institution through which persons inherit their religion, social class, and identity. The family is often thought of as a patriarchal, hierarchical pyramid (as far as age and sex are concerned) and what befell one member is thought to bring honor or shame to the entire family (net industries,2018). As a Muslim Arab my friend cannot confront his family about his homosexuality. At the moment his parents are supporting him economically and if he comes out to his parents all help will be stop and they will send for him to go back to his country. Going back to his country will mean to probably go throw psychological treatments and possible treatment methods created to change a “gay person to straight”. Not only a transformation treatment will possibly be done, but he will probably be forced to marry a woman and fulfill his community and family cultural believes.
Besides understanding minority population challenges in India, there are other ethnic groups that face daily problems because of been different and specially coming from other parts of the world. In my friend case he is twice a minority, an Arab in India and a gay man living around two communities that reject homosexuality and face violence. It has been an exhausting two weekends mentally and emotionally. Having conversations with men that are not educated in homosexual topics makes me want to scream. At the same time encourages me to never stop awareness, special fight for minority rights all over the world. Believe it or not, I did like most of the conversations we had. They are intelligent people when it comes to topics not related to sexual orientation. I have learned that the world still needs to come together and fight for equal rights for all. Not only for the LGBTQIA community, but for those that have no voice.
“This site/blog http://www.hectorpeguero.com is not an official site of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of the author and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.”
<a href=”http://family.jrank.org/pages/464/Ethnic-Variation-Ethnicity-Middle-Eastern-Families.html”>Ethnic Variation/Ethnicity – Middle Eastern Families</a>
Read more: Ethnic Variation/Ethnicity – Middle Eastern Families – Family, Family, and Arab – JRank Articles http://family.jrank.org/pages/464/Ethnic-Variation-Ethnicity-Middle-Eastern-Families.html#ixzz5WiwgmYaP
Hélie, A. (2004). Holy hatred. Reproductive health matters, 12(23), 120-124.