On my website GlobalGayz.com I do not have an informative descriptive story about LGBT life in Mauritania. There is virtually nothing about the country’s homosexual citizens on the entire Internet. And for good reason: the country, located in northwest Africa, is dominated by Sharia Muslim law, which as most of us know is vehemently gay-dangerous. Recently I made an attempt to probe into gay life there. I found a contact who is gay (closeted) and seemed willing at first to write to me. He invited me to ask questions and I responded with some usual queries such as when did you first realize you were gay? what was your family’s reaction, if they know? is there any LGBT organization in Mauritania? is your life at risk? I assured him I would mask his identity and any other identifiers.
His response was startling although not surprising. I had presumed he was somewhat out because he had been referred with an LGBT organization. That turned out not to be an accurate assessment of his situation. He withdrew his willingness; his fearful reply is posted here:
“This is too danger for me; I feel unsecurity of my life here. OMG if I get arrested and be in jail and no one will care about me I will died in that jail… I haven’t enough money for leave and run away from Mauritania; the US Embassy will never cover me and I’m starting to be afraid with any activism for Lgbt…”
After a month, he sent another message: “we are canceling our LGBT project and going for another project, not LGBT, because no one appreciated that project and there was no funding to developing that.”
I well know how risky LGBT advocacy can be in some countries, especially Muslim countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Palestine, Algeria, Yemen; as well as Christian states such as Jamaica, Nigeria, East Timor, Romania, Russia… Four of my interviewees for GlobalGayz have been murdered in both Muslim and Christian countries.
Those of us living in ‘protective bubbles’ where being gay is accepted and celebrated do not see the brutality and terror that many LGBTs worldwide live with daily. My correspondent’s reply is a daunting reminder of the dark world of homophobia in which all of us live to one degree or another; it’s also a wake-up call to increase our opposition to individual and institutional bigotry and persecution against us. Never forget, never stop. More will die in the struggle to make many others free and equal.