Amir is the founder of IraQueer, which is the first and only organization for the LGBTIQ+ community in the public history of Iraq.
With a diverse team of youngsters Amir contacted through varies means like social media and personal contacts, the team of 22 activists at IraQueer documents and reports everything related to the LGBTIQ+ community in Iraq starting from personal stories, to writing reports to the UN, and ending up with providing information about sexuality and its relations to the legal, social, and religious aspects in Iraq, in Arabic, Kurdish, and English.
IraQueer is the only resource for such information in Kurdish, and most of the English and the Arabic content can't be found anywhere else.
In addition, IraQueer trains human rights activists and other groups about human rights and gender equality. All this makes IraQueer's work groundbreaking since homosexuality in Iraq is illegal and gay people are killed in annual campaigns carried out by extremists.
- Promote human rights for the LGBTIQ+ community in Iraq. - Raise awareness for and about the LGBTIQ+ community in Iraq, and start organizing a queer community that represents the start of the first queer movement in Iraq's history.
We want to equip the queer community with enough knowledge and start building trust among ourselves, and organize our efforts to start the movement and demand our rights.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Before IraQueer there was barely any presence for the LGBTIQ+ community from/ in Iraq.
Now, IraQueer's website receives an average of 5000 viewers every month, and the success story has been covered by the biggest media outlets in the world like the HuffingtonPost, OutMagazine, Prospect Magazine, and others.
IraQueer submitted one of the few shadow reports from an Iraqi NGO that highlights the government's violation of the LGBTIQ+'s human rights.
IraQueer is helping queer asylum seekers in various countries, and is becoming a resource for information. A growing number of members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Iraq are contacting IraQueer every week sharing their stories and asking for certain kinds of support.
ALL the work we have done has been done with ZERO budget. Our team is volunteer based for now, and dedicates a lot of time and effort for a cause that means so much to us personally.
Social media is the strongest weapon we're using to reach out to people. When Amir first started recruiting people, he even used Tinder (the dating app). We used applications to safely communicate. We're trying to give the queer community in Iraq a human face by sharing personal stories from Iraqis who lived their entire lives in Iraq and go what everyone else goes through, the only difference is that they are gay.
Also, our team is diverse; we have Arabs, Kurds, Muslims, Christians, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, straight people and other identities.
IraQueer's team grew from one person to 22 people, who mostly reside inside Iraq. The LGBTIQ+ community is hopeful and actively contacting IraQueer asking for support, believing that we are representing something they never thought would happen.
Some individuals even offer to help. International visibility of the Iraqi LGBTIQ+ community has been notably raised. Not only the amount of information has increased, but also searching for information on Google will no longer only bring you bad news related to Iraq's queer community.
IraQueer is creating a positive image to, and for Iraq.
The safety issue is the biggest challenge IraQueer is facing. Even though most members are not publicly affiliated with IraQueer, joining such an organization puts them at a great risk.
Also, Amir fled Iraq more than a year ago, leaving his family behind, since he was facing death threats and has been imprisoned more than once.
Becoming the movement's public face puts Amir and his loved ones at great social and political danger. The lack of knowledge and acceptance of different sexual orientations has led to the portrayal of IraQueer's work as something repulsive by a large number of people in Iraq, which leads to social threats.
We have learned that taking leaps of faith will be rewarding. We did that with the team, and now we have an amazing team. Some of us have never met in person before.
Our cause unites us, and our passion for human rights and equality keeps us going. We learned that no matter how much we want to, the change process will be slow and we rather go slowly and steady, rather than rushing things and risking the collapse of everything we have achieved and want to achieve in the future.