Tuesday, 1 February 2011

In Algeria, a gay blog breaks boundaries

Source: IGLHRC

Pioneering Algerian blogger ZIZOU runs and writes ZIZOU’s Magazine, which is one of the most prominent and popular Arabic-language blogs for the LGBT community, focusing on everything from human rights and politics to entertainment (http://zizoumag.blogspot.com/). As part of an ongoing series highlighting creative tools used by sexual rights activists globally, IGLHRC asked ZIZOU about the importance of blogging for LGBT activism.

ZIZOU: The LGBT rights blogging phenomenon has grown extensively and impressively in recent years in parallel with developments in human rights in general and in the field of modern technology, especially the Internet. This has allowed these media channels to develop quickly and to compete with traditional channels of intellectual and cultural information.

A blog for me is an investment in freedom that benefits from the World Wide Web, which is beyond government censorship. Blogging allows me to discuss political, social, and frank personal issues that don’t otherwise reach people through other channels in a simple and funny (sometimes cynical) way.

There are many factors that have helped develop blogging and made it accessible for LGBT activism, including specialized online services with ready-to-use formats that make publishing an easy process. Blogging doesn’t require much time or effort and it does not require a high level of education, permits, capital, employees, or distributors. It is also possible to create a blog under a pseudonym allowing one to discuss issues frankly and without external threat or the pressure that comes just from talking about some issues.

The idea of a blog has itself allowed me to break down the geographical, political and social boundaries between countries. However, there are still various barriers that activist bloggers need to overcome. It is critical to prioritize developing consensus on principles and codes of conduct in the burgeoning field of LGBT blogging in order to ensure the ongoing communication and cooperation of the many diverse LGBT bloggers (whether professionals, researchers, scholars, innovators, or students) who want to capture lost freedom and who desire change.

This work of developing a consensus around human rights requires bloggers to have a lot of courage because they face many pressures when they discuss issues related to the social, political and legal situation in their countries. Some may end up facing restrictions such as having their blogs blocked and may end up being persecuted and even imprisoned for their work. For this reason this work cannot happen individually - support and collective action is required.

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