Around the Web

No longer alone: LGBTQ people from West Asia and North Africa share stories of self-discovery

‘It's not a disease. You're not against religion or Islam. You're not against culture, or the state, or your family.’


The LGBTQ community has it hard enough in most countries. In the Arab world, it’s particularly difficult. In a new video campaign (above) by Human Rights Watch and Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, LGBTQ rights activists from West Asia and North Africa are speaking out.

Titled No Longer Alone, the video highlights the journeys of 18 LGBTQ Arabs as they share their stories of self-discovery, self-acceptance and coming to terms with their sexual and gender identities, in spite of social stigma and challenges – whether personal, religious or social.

“I felt like a freak of nature. That there was something completely wrong with my existence even. People would make fun of me, hit me. I used to feel very alone,” says Hamed Sinno, a famous Lebanese singer-songwriter, who identifies as queer. “What I didn’t understand was there is nothing wrong with me. It’s the people around me who were wrong.”

Abdellah Taïa, a writer from Morocco, admits, “I never thought that one day I’d have the strength to face society and say, ‘I’m gay whether you like it or not.’”

As HRW wrote about the video, “For many, their personal experiences of isolation and abuse led them to activism.” They also explained that although some of the activists preferred to have their faces hidden or their voices altered, they sent an important message to LGBT people in the Arab world, that one needs to come out in order to make a change.

To accompany the video, HRW also released a 75-page report titled “Audacity in Adversity: LGBT Activism in the Middle East and North Africa”, which is based on interviews with 34 activists from 16 Arabic-speaking countries. They have also released a separate series of videos, with individual activists. You can watch some of them below, and the rest on HRW’s YouTube channel.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Innovations in payment options are making premium products more accessible

No need for documentation or applications to own high-quality items

Credit cards have long been associated with an aspirational lifestyle. The ability to buy something out of your wish list without needing to pay the entire amount can tempt even the most disciplined shoppers. A designer couch, the latest mobile phone, a home entertainment system or a car, as long as you can pay back the borrowed amount within the grace period, your credit card purchases know no bounds.

However, credit cards, pre-approved or not, come with a number of complications. The tedious application procedure starts with the collection and submission of various documents. Moreover, there are several reasons your credit card application might get rejected including low income that compromises your repayment capability, certain occupations or work history, mistakes in the application form, possession of multiple cards or even a failed physical verification attempt. While applying for a credit card might have become easier, the success of the application can take time and effort.

Credit card owners are regaled with benefits all year round with attractive EMIs, offers on purchases, airline miles, lounge access, cashbacks and a plethora of exclusive deals. It’s worth noting that debit card owners don’t get even half of these benefits and offers, despite the sheer size of the debit card customer base in the country (846.7 million compared to 36.2 million credit card holders).

This imbalance of finance and purchase options between credit card and debit card owners is slowly changing. For instance, the new EMIs on debit card feature on Flipkart ensures affordability and accessibility to Indian consumers who don’t own credit cards. The payment innovation increases the purchasing power of the consumer. By providing credit access to non-credit card holders, expensive and high-quality products are made more affordable for a large base of customers without denting their cash flow. The video below comically captures a scenario that people who don’t own a credit card will relate to.


Flipkart’s EMIs on debit card feature doesn’t require a minimum account balance, documentation, nor does it charge a processing fee, making online shopping a seamless experience even for more high-end products. To find out if you’re eligible for EMIs on debit card, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.