An open door to the Arab world


Country briefing






Special topics


Arts and culture




Gay and lesbian Arabs


Basic information

International Lesbian and Gay Association 
A world-wide federation of national and local groups seeking equal rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people everywhere. 

Bint el Nas 
For "women who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer".

Arab Lesbian Women & Allies Network (ALWAAN)
Alwan is an online community for Arab lesbians, gay men, bisexual men and women, transgender persons and those who are interested in building bridges with the LGBT Arab community and participating in a progressive dialogue. Alwaan also has a blog.

A feminist and queer Arab magazine

Barra magazine 

"A community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in Morocco." Website in Arabic, French and Spanish.

Gay and Lesbian Arabic Society (GLAS)
US-based organisation which aims "to promote positive images of gays and lesbians in Arab communities worldwide, in addition to combating negative portrayals of Arabs within the gay and lesbian community".

News, information, articles.

Positive terminology 
Suggested Arabic equivalents for "gay", "bisexual", etc. (Bint el Nas)

"The louder we will sing" 
A handbook produced by Amnesty International for promoting and defending the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Also in PDF format.

Crimes of hate, conspiracy of silence
Amnesty International report on torture and ill-treatment based on sexual identity in various countries

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Useful website documenting abuse and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation around the world.

Gay rights in the Middle East 
Wikipedia articles on: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and the UAE.

Government disorientation
Does government repression of homosexuality in the Middle East stem from outdated ideas about the role of the state? (Guardian Unlimited, 29 April 2003).

Unspeakable Love 
Links to articles and reviews of the book.

Cross-dressing in Middle Eastern dance 

Married Gay 
Although not specifically focused on the Middle East, this website provides useful information for married people who feel that they may be gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Distorting desire  
'Desiring Arabs' by Joseph Massad (University of Chicago Press, 2007). Reviewed by Brian Whitaker

Arab sexualities 
'Desiring Arabs' by Joseph Massad (University of Chicago Press, 2007). Reviewed by Peter Drucker. Alternative site.

Interview with Abdellah Taia  
The Moroccan writer talks about his book, Salvation Army.

The Gay Electronic Intifada of Lebanon 
by Rita El-Haddad. Monthly Review, 27 August 2009

The first Jordanian LGBT magazine. See Youtube video

Gay/lesbian blogs

Send an email to add new blogs to this list

Alaa Jarban 
A blog from Yemen

A of Arabia Uncut  
"An undercover queer blog somewhere in the Middle East"

L'Algerie en Rose 
By a gay Algerian, in French

Arab Lesbian Women & Allies Network (ALWAAN)

Beirut Boy

Beirut Diary 
by Gavin Hallier

Beirut Gay Blogs 

bE LeBnAN! 
"Just another Lebanese LGBT blog but in Arabic"

Cz I Cant Tell 

Daily Voice of Reason 
by Moussa Hassoun

Emraa Methlya 
Lesbian blog from Egypt (in Arabic)

Gay Boy Weekly 
Arabic/English, from Kuwait

Gay in Beirut 

by Georges Azzi

Homos Libnani 
"Just one random gay guy from Beirut"

Kareem's Diary 
Kareem Azmi (mainly in Arabic)

"When women wake, mountains move"

Meem Blog 
Lesbian group blog from Lebanon

"Human rights are not optional"

"Dispelling myths"

Sama Says 
Syrian blogger

Saudi Gay Boy 
In Arabic

The Queer Arabs Blog 
"Rantings of angry sarcastic bitchy queer Arab Americans".

Unspeakable Love  
A blog about the book, 'Unspeakable Love', and related topics.


Send an email to add new Twitter users to this list













A British-based support group "for Muslim lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people, as well as those questioning their sexuality or gender identity, and their family, friends and supporters". See article.

Queer Jihad 
A website that "condemns all forms of terrorism, including prejudice and discrimination".

Safra Project  
Project working on "issues relating to lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender women who identify as Muslim religiously and/or culturally"

Salaam Canada 
"The Queer Muslim Community of Toronto."

Sodom and the Qur'an  
By Raza Griffiths (Gay Times magazine).

Islamic fundamentalism in Britain  
Peter Tatchell argues that Muslim fundamentalists are a growing threat to gay human rights in Britain.

An Islamic revolutionary 
Profile of Adnan Ali, Muslim gay activist living in Britain (Guardian, 30 August 2001). 

Islamic treatment of homosexuals  
A report on gruesome punishments

Gay Druze (Yahoo group)

Sex and taboos in the Islamic world 
by Amira El Ahl and Daniel Steinvorth (Spiegel magazine, 20 October 2006)

Asylum and immigration

Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force 
US-based organisation 

UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group 
A charity providing information and advice on immigration rights for same-sex couples and support for lesbian and gay asylum seekers.


Arab HIV  
A website that aims "to reach out to members of Arab communities worldwide who are affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic".

New lease of life after AIDS death sentence  
By Peter Speetjens (Daily Star, Lebanon, 6/3/98).

Sexual diversity in modern Arab fiction

The Stone of Laughter 
By Hoda Barakat. The first Arabic novel to feature a gay man as it central character. Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

The Yacoubian Building 
By Alaa Al Aswani. The book portrays the ills of Egypt through the lives of people living in a Cairo apartment block. Its characters include a gay newspaper editor and his lover, a young policeman. Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

Moroccan Slave [PDF]
A short story by Moroccan writer Abdellah Taia (who is interviewed here in French)

Salvation Army 
An autobiographical coming-of-age novel by Abdellah Taia (the "only gay man" in Morocco). See al-bab's interview with Taia. Read an excerpt from the book here. Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

Presence of the Absent Man
By Alia Mamdouh. Short story about lesbian encounter in a street market. Published in a collection of Arab short stories: Under the Naked Sky (amazon.com or amazon.co.uk). Mamdouh's novel, Mothballs - also known in English as Naphtalene (amazon.com or amazon.co.uk) includes a lesbian scene between the narrator’s two aunts. 

By Ammar Abdulhamid. Includes a lesbian relationship involving two Syrian women. The book was written in English and has not been published in Arabic. Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

Women of Sand and Myrrh 
By Hanan al-Shayk. Four women struggling against a patriarchal order. One of them embarks on a relationship with another woman while insisting that this is only temporary and her real attraction is towards men.

Ana Hiya Anti
By Elham Mansour. Possibly the only Arabic novel that portrays lesbianism in its own right, rather than in feminist terms as a substitute for unsatisfactory relationships with men. (Not available in English.)

For Bread Alone
Mohamed Choukri’s fictionalised autobiography includes an episode where the impoverished young Moroccan narrator has oral sex in a car with an elderly Spaniard for payment of 50 pesetas. The incident is described in extremely crude terms obviously calculated to disgust. (Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk)

By Rabih Alameddine. A book full of sex and black humour which cross-cuts between the Lebanese civil war and the AIDS epidemic in the United States. The author is from a Lebanese family but lives in the US and writes in English. (Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk)

Homosexuality in the early novels of Nageeb Mahfouz
An article by Nabil Matar, Journal of Homosexuality, Vol 26 (4), 1994. (Reprints available from Howarth Press.)

Sexual diversity in films

Films by Youssef Chahine 
Egypt’s greatest director depicts homosexuality in a positive, matter-of-fact way in several of his films, including An Egyptian Fairy Tale (“Hadduta Misriyya”, 1982) and Alexandria, Why? (“Iskindiriyya Leeh?”, 1978). Other films allude to it indirectly, for example Alexandria Again and Again (“Iskindiriyya Kaman wi Kaman”, 1989).

Unlocking the Arab celluloid closet  
An article by Garay Menicucci on homosexuality in Egyptian film. (MERIP, Issue 206).

The Beirut Apartment (2007)
A film project about gay/lesbian life in Lebanon. Scheduled for relase in 2007.

A Jihad for Love (2007)
"Filmed in twelve different countries and in nine languages, A Jihad for Love is the first-ever feature-length documentary to explore the complex global intersections of Islam and homosexuality." See also director's blog and Wikipedia.

Toul Omri ("All My Life")
To be released shortly

The Yacoubian Building (2006)
Film version of the popular novel by Alaa el Aswani. See wikipedia.

I Exist (2003)
Documentary exploring the lives of lesbian and gay people from Middle Eastern cultures living in the United States. See also: arabfilm.com.

Dangerous Living (2003)
Documentary on coming out in the developing world. See also IMDB.

Garden (2003)
Story of a close friendship between two Arab male prostitutes. 

Tarik el Hob ("The Road to Love", 2001) 
"A romantic tale of self-discovery that also offers a fascinating historical take on homosexuality in northern Africa." See also: arabfilm.com.

Mercedes (1993)
Yousri Nasrallah’s film features a protagonist who has a gay brother with a lover, and also a drug-addicted lesbian aunt. See Nasrallah's interview with L’Humanité, December 5, 2001 (in French).

Bezness (1992)
Directed by Nouri Bouzid. A sex-with-foreigners tale – in this case gigolos who sell their bodies to tourists of either gender. It is not really a film about homosexuality; its basic theme is cultural schizophrenia among young Arabs torn between east and west, between tradition and modernity. 

Man of Ashes (“Rih al-Sadd”, 1986)
Directed by Nouri Bouzid. A sensitive and ground-breaking portrait of young Tunisian men grappling with doubts about their masculinity, but the film is spoiled by blaming their identity crisis on a carpenter who sexually abused them as children.

The Malatili Bath (“Hamam al-Malatili”, 1973)
Directed by Salah Abu Saif. A homeless young man takes shelter in a bath house and meets a gay artist. The film, which is shockingly homerotic by Egyptian standards, makes a plea for sexual tolerance which does not entirely succeed.


NaR is a queer Arab hip hop crew, featuring a girl-boy emcee duo. Both emcees have roots in the mountains of Lebanon. Mazen was born there and moved to the States as a political refugee at the age of five, fleeing the Israeli invasion. Tru Bloo came up in Las Vegas, NV as a first-generation daughter of Syrian-Lebanese immigrants. NaR means "fire" in Arabic and describes our deep passion for social change and revolution ... Although we are the first queer Arab hip hop crew, our lyrics focus primarily on greater political issues - not merely the eradication of homophobia, although that is one of our many struggles.

Queer Palestinian hip hop

Iambic Dream Project  
(Wael K)


In the gay and lesbian section


In the diversity section


In the human rights section

Human rights: introduction 

Arab ratification of UN human rights conventions 

Arab civil society 

Human rights documents


We try to keep our links up to date. Please contact us if you find a broken link or would like to add a new one.


Unspeakable Love:
Gay and lesbian life in the Middle East

By Brian Whitaker. Click here for details. Now also available in Arabic.

Books from Amazon

(These books are non-fiction. Click here for fiction.)

Homosexuality in Islam
Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle. Paperback, 2010. Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

Gay Travels in the Muslim World
Michael Luongo (ed). Paperback, 2007. Available from amazon.com.

Sexuality in the Arab World
Samir Khalaf and John Gagnon (eds). Hardcover, 2006. ISBN 086356948X. Includes two gay-related chapters. Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies
Arno Schmitt. Paperback, 1991. Purchase from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk 

About This Man Called Ali: The Purple Life of an Arab Artist 
By Amal Ghandour. A biography of the murdered Syrian-Jordanian artist Ali al-Jabri, from his diaries, his letters, and interviews with people he knew and met. Reviewed in Newsweek, 22 April 2009. Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic Literature 
J. W. Wright, Everett K. Rowson (Eds). Paperback. Purchase from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature
by Stephen O. Murray, Will Roscoe (Eds), et al. Paperback, 1997. Purchase from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. See review.

Imagined Masculinities: Male Identity and Culture in the Modern Middle East
Mai Ghoussoub, Emma Sinclair-Webb (Eds). Paperback, 2000. Purchase from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

Sex Longing & Not Belonging: A Gay Muslim's Quest for Love & Meaning 
Badruddin Khan. Paperback. Purchase from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk 

Sexual Encounters in the Middle East
Derek Hopwood. Hardcover, 2000. Order from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. Review: al-Ahram Weekly


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Last revised on 03 August, 2015