The biggest threat to Bedayaa is tracking and censorship by the government.
Bedayaa is an organization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Inter-sex people in the Nile Valley Area (Egypt and Sudan). Bedayaa works to promote the acceptance of homosexuality in Egypt and Sudan and to help LGBTQI community members to live a life free of discrimination or stigma. Their mission is to create a safe space for all LGBTQI people in the Nile Valley where they can communicate, exchange knowledge, discuss issues, share experiences, and work on improving their lives and themselves.
Bedayaa’s online platform is critical for the LGBTQI people in the region. Noor Sultan, Executive Director of Bedayaa, explained that “Some of the people in this community do not want or dare to be in touch with people on the ground to discuss and get involved with others. They fear that meetings in person may jeopardize their security. Digital communication could, if done in a secure way, solve this problem because it allows people to communicate from anywhere.”
Sultan continued, “There is clear a lack of resources that talk about homosexuality in Arabic. There are few resources that give a clear understanding of what homosexuality is and how a homosexual person can live and survive in countries like Egypt and Sudan. Furthermore, there are no Arabic language resources that provide social and psychological advice and support to those who may need it or who feel affected negatively by social norms. This is the hole we try to fill with the Bedayaa Platform.”
The biggest threat to Bedayaa is tracking and censorship by the government, since the Egyptian and Sudanese governments are both very aggressive regarding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) issues.
“There are many reports of incidents involving the tracking and arrests of homosexuals through online platforms,” noted Sultan. “Thankfully, we’ve never faced a problem through our website, but other platforms (social media, Facebook, online dating) have had issues. Police spies create social accounts, and when you go to meet them in person they turn out to be police and arrest you.”
Bedayaa also had difficutlies with attacks on their website temporarily knocking it offline or preventing access altogether. “Sometimes the website wasn’t there,” Sultan commented. “We’re not sure if it’s a technical problem or if it’s the government trying to stop us.”
Bedayaa turned to Project Galileo to ensure their site was protected and kept online despite the attacks they were seeing.
“We are apart of a global LGBT movement,” Sultan related. “To exist as an organization serving or raising awareness of homosexuality or transexuality in egypt, this is important work to do. We raise awareness and connect to international movements. It’s helpful, when you become more vocal and visible about the LGBT situation in egypt and you get the spotlight from the international community on the arrests and violence, which further increases visibility for the LGBT community. We work to spread awareness and end this violence. Project Galileo helps us do that.”
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