Mawjoudin is a legal NGO and has been active since 2016, working on LGBTIQ++ rights, human rights and fighting all forms of discrimination. The idea was born with “cinexist” on February 2017 as Karam said. “Mawjoudin is a place where LGBTQ++ community and gay-friendly reunite to struggle against hate and discrimination against queer people” He added.
From January 15th to 18th, the NGO organized and carried out a festival, the first of its kind not only in Tunisia but also North Africa, choosing art (especially Cinema) as a way to fight against homophobia and gender-based discrimination. The festival included panel discussions about queer and art, also 12 films produced in Africa and the Middle East was screened such as the Tunisian documentary “Under The Shadow”.
“It’s impossible for an artist to be homophobic” Fatma ben Saidan, a famous Tunisian actress said. “An artist is someone who defends human rights, celebrate freedom, and has to be tolerant, we actors play different personalities. That’s why we can understand the different situations of a person and that’s why we can’t be racist, sexist, or a homophobe. Being present in this festival is a duty, a way to defend this community to enjoy a respectful life because there is no difference between all Tunisians and this discrimination against them has to be stopped”. She added ” The festival is a great move towards making more steps to fight against homophobia. This Festival, supporting artwork, must be encouraged by the Ministry of Culture and be considered as a national festival. Why not organize music festivals talking about this matter?”
Nadia Bousseta, a Tunisian Comedian, commented “participating in this Festival as an artist is the smallest thing I can do to show my support.” When asked about the importance of art in dealing with social issues she replied “art is always a solution by affording people a way out of stress and giving them the possibility and tools to express their opinions and spend their energies. This Festival is a good first step to say we’re here and refuse discrimination. Also, In my opinion, journalists have to help this community make their voices heard and make people know more about their existence because journalists are also responsible”.
Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival is a way to show LGBTQ++ life through cinema, “because queer is not only a sexual orientation or a gender-based matter, queer is a way of life, a way of thinking and way of existing” Karam explains. Queer is saying “NO” to the normal rules of how to be a woman or a man and having the freedom to be who you are.” Dear families if your kid is a queer don’t hate them or kick them out of the house or reject them. Love them and accept them as they are. Try to understand them and protect them. Because a queer is not being without ethics as a lot of people think” Fatma Ben Saidane said.
Due to security concerns, the organizers of the festival did not widely publicize the event, a fact that needs to be thought about, for how long we’ll keep on rejecting others who are different than us? and for how long we will learn how to live in peace all together?
Creativeناس Magazine Manager
Imen Riahi is an Arabic Language, Literature, and Civilization student. Her social activism career has started in 2013 when she started volunteering in the Tunisian Red Crescent. Currently, she is a trainee and reporter with the BBC Media Action North Africa, and the Co-Founder/ Project leader of CreativenessTN. She has always been interested in writing and she organizes focus groups about issues related to youth and writes about it.