Support LGBTQI+ from the MENA Area (SALMA program)
REQUESTS FOR HELP
Last updated on December 2020
The LGBTQI+ community in the MENA region is usually facing different kinds of taboos and restrictions, either social, religious or political. For instance, homosexuality is illegal in almost all countries in the region (except Jordan and Oman), and often liable to jail sentences or even death penalty (like in Saudi Arabia, Yemen). In recent years, the few signs of progress witnessed during the "Arab spring" have quickly set space to more repression from various governments: prohibition of Shams association in Tunisia, cancellation of the LGBTQI+ Pride in Beirut (the only one in the Arab world), systemic repression in Egypt, trials in Morocco... In all the region, the LGBTQI+ community now faces backlash from reactionary forces, social and religious pressure, and their rights are systematically denied.
Objectives and mission:
Following numerous testimonies, calls for support and feedback from on-the-field team members, ANKH association has decided to set up the Salma project to help and support LGBTQI+ people from the MENA region facing difficulties in their country of residence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The word 'Salma' meaning 'Peace' in Arabic, this projects also carries a message of hope and tolerance towards the societies and people living in the region.
With this project, we wish to provide to LGBTQI+ individuals from the MENA region:
- An online, safe and welcoming platform for advice and psychological support, available in 3 languages (Arabic, French, English);
- Legal advice and material solutions to improve the lives of LGBTQI+ individuals;
- An international network of action and awareness campaigns to respond to the challenges faced by the LGBTQI+ community.
Care, advice, and psychological support
Through the various social media platforms set up by ANKH association and its related campaigns, but also through a network of partners and volunteers in different Mediterranean countries, ANKH provides safe and anonymous contact points for LGBTQI+ individuals facing difficulties, in 3 languages (Arabic-French-English).
We offer them the possibility to talk freely and without judgment about topics that they generally can't talk to with their relatives, but also psychological support and advice in order to find solutions to the problems that they might be facing.
"Know More" was one of the first campaigns launched by ANKH association in 2018. This sexual health campaign aims to raise awareness towards Arab-speaking audiences on STDs, but also topics related with sexual orientation and gender identity, by providing reliable information written or translated in Arabic HIV prevention is one of the main aspects of the campaign.
Within a few months, the campaign has grown very quickly, reaching thousands of people in different Mediterranean countries.
Administrative and legal support
ANKH association supports LGBTQI+ individuals from the MENA region in their legal and administrative procedures: access to health care, asylum, opening bank accounts, housing... We also put them in touch, when needed, with local lawyers or organizations specialized in the relevant field (health care, housing, immigration...).
We also translate and publish guides on LGBTQI+ individuals' rights in various contexts (health care, privacy policies...) to be distributed to professionals and the general audience.
As much as possible, and in collaboration with our network of partners in different countries, we try to provide material solutions to LGBTQI+ individuals facing difficulties: emergency housing, access to medicines, emergency funds...
Focus on LGTBQI+ asylum seekers in Europe
The Salma project aims to support LGBTQI+ individuals from MENA countries, regardless of their country of residency or their administrative status. Due to the numerous challenges that they are facing in the region, many of them have no choice but to leave their country of origin where their life or health is under threats. For these reasons, we are regularly contacted by LGBTQI+ indiviuals fron the MENA region but residing in an European country. There, they are facing different kinds of challenges, due to the administrative procedures, but also their integration in their new country of residence, their relations with other categories of migrants or with their respective communities.