Meet the Ambassador who pioneered the queer rights movement in Iraq and Kurdistan region

 

Amir is the Founder and Executive Director of IraQueer- the first and only platform for the LGBTQ+ community in Iraq. Amir was a Delegate Speaker in the Human Rights Plenary Session at the 2014 Summit in Dublin.  

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Less than one year ago, the name IraQueer was only known to a very small amount of people who were involved in the brainstorming process of establishing an online platform for the queer community in Iraq. In November 2014, the plan for IraQueer was supposed to be nothing more than a website spreading awareness for and about the queer community inside the country, run by a couple of members. 

Today, IraQueer is an aspiring organisation with a diverse and passionate team of 20 people among which 18 live inside Iraq. Content is shared in Arabic, Kurdish, and English and IraQueer’s website receives 3500+ readers every month. The social media accounts have a total of nearly 4000 followers, and the average weekly reach is 1500+! 

Due to the attention that IraQueer has received, IraQueer’s name and story have been featured in some of the biggest media outlets in the world including Out Magazine, Hareetz, SVT, and now One Young World. IraQueer’s work has been highlighted by local and international human rights activities, starting from small and closed meetings, and ending with the UN’s security council meeting about human rights for LGBTIQ+ individuals. 

These facts leave no doubt that IraQueer represents the start of the queer movement in Iraq and Kurdistan region being the first and only organisation for LGBTIQ+’s in the public history of the country. Which also means that the responsibility of the members of IraQueer is only increasing, and their living spaces and comfort zones are therefore decreasing. 

As the Founder and Executive Director of IraQueer, I have worked for different local and international organisations promoting human rights for everyone regardless of their backgrounds, focusing on human rights for the LGBTIQ+ community. 

I have been public about my activism, especially from the beginning of 2014 when I started giving talks at places like One Young World in Dublin, TEDxUKH in Iraq, Harvard and MIT universities in the United States, Lund and Umeå prides in Sweden, and the Stockholm Internet Forum. 

IraQueer’s vision is to build an Iraq where all people enjoy the full range of their rights and responsibilities regardless of their gender identities and sexual orientations. A country where the LGBTIQ+ community is recognised and respected. A community where all the individuals feel safe both physically and mentally. 

The LGBTIQ+ community has been going through horrific violations practiced directly and indirectly by the local governments, militias, employers, teachers, and even family members and friends. Violations that deprived the queer community from their education, jobs, and even lives. Violations that have been taking place for too long without attracting the necessary attention by the locals or even the international communities. Violations that eliminated any idea or thoughts of the possibility of people standing up for themselves, and reclaiming their spaces and roles in the society.

IraQueer not only condemns these violations, but also hold the local and international governments and organisations accountable for not taking the necessary actions to stop violations that directly violate some of the local and international laws, and human rights standards.

IraQueer’s vision and demand are very simple and clear: we want an Iraq where the queer individuals enjoy the full range of their rights, and take full responsibility in building and shaping the future of the country. A country that is in desperate need of its citizens and utilising the full range of their capacities.