Orientalism is “the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, ‘mind,’ destiny and so on.” - Edward Said
Conflating social issues like gay rights with the #LetThemStay campaign is wrong-headed.
Claims in the ALL OUT flyer below that Iran is less tolerant than Australia on social issues amounts to Orientalism – we should not fall into the trap of the West’s patronizing perceptions and fictional depictions of people from the Middle East or anywhere else for that matter e.g. Nauru.
The capital of Iran, Teheran, is a liberal city where you will see men holding hands as in any country in the Middle East. This does not mean they are gay, it is a custom, that’s all. It is unlikely that the death penalty in Iran would be applied to gay people. That is not to say that Nima and Ashkan do not feel persecuted. That anti-gay sentiment could happen here in Fortitude Valley. Over the years many people have been bashed and worse for being gay in Australia.
And tell me that the West’s version of divorce is more humanitarian and progressive than that depicted in the Iranian film ‘The Separation’. Here is the trailer:
What I got from that film was the principled way in which Iranians argued their point of view, both men and women. If only we could do the same here in Australia.
We should not confuse cultural imperialism with our desire for a more humane response to refugees.
And who in the USA or Australia has the right to cast the first stone with Trump as the front runner to be the next American President and Turnbull, the bullshit artist in power here.
Two years ago, I escaped my home in Iran. BY LAW, I could have been killed, just because I’m gay.
I trekked all the way to Australia, convinced I’d be safe. But Australian immigration turned me away.
They dumped me on the island of Nauru, where it’s illegal to be gay.
Please, ask authorities to get me out of this hell and bring me to safety in Australia.
On Nauru, I met Ashkan who also escaped Iran, and we fell in love. We are happy to have each other, but we’re still living a nightmare: we’ve been violently beaten on the street because we’re gay.
I don’t know why Australia won’t accept us. Alone, our cry for help isn’t loud enough. That’s why I’m asking you to join in:
Australia’s detention system is bad for everyone, not just Ashkan and me: their terrible refugee policy is violating basic human rights.
Australia is lobbying to be on the United Nation’s Human Right’s council and they’re holding an important meeting in three days. A huge outcry for me and Ashkan could shine a spotlight on Australia’s horrible refugee problem, and force the government to get their act together.
For my sake, my partner’s sake, and for other refugees facing violence and discrimination because they aren’t accepted into Australia, will you ask Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to bring us to safety?
Nima, the All Out team, and Australia’s Human Rights Law Centre.
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