A gay magazine being published in Arabic and made available across the Middle East was hailed as progress by commenters around the world.
But while it was a landmark moment for LGBTI rights, the magazine’s founders are now facing potential lawsuits and death threats from people furious over the supposed ‘promotion of homosexuality’.
My Kali, an online magazine in Jordan, has only ever been published in English. Their May/June issue is the first time in its nine-year history was available in both English and Arabic.
Last week, magazine founder Khalid Abdel-Hadi gave an interview with Lebanese website Raseef 22 – the first he gave in Arabic – about the issue.
‘When I started the magazine, I was trying to not be noticed in Jordanian society for fear a backlash,’ he said, when asked why he kept it in English for so long.
‘The change came after so many gay people, who can only read Arabic, wanted us to do an Arabic edition. We wanted to start spreading awareness on these issues.’
#TBT #MyKali July 2009, featuring the magazine’s founder Khalid Abdel-Hadi. “I wanted to be part of a cover that gives a sense of belonging and pride, to reflect the relation between being LGBT and Arab/Jordanian” – Khalid. #throwbackthursday #throwback #jo #jordan #ماي_كالي يوليو 2009، و الدي يتصدره مؤسس المجلة خالد عبد الهادي. ” أردت أن أكون جزءا من غلاف يعطي شعورا بالانتماء والاعتزاز، يعكس العلاقة بين ان تكون من المجتمع الميم (المثلية) و ان تكون عربيا/أردنيا” – خالد.
A photo posted by My.Kali Magazine (@mykali) on
The article went viral in the Arab-speaking world, with numerous commenters reacting angrily – the backlash Abdel-Hadi feared.
Many news outlets have questioned why the magazine is ‘provoking the public’ and suggested the magazine is not an officially registered title. Many reported it was printed, which is untrue.
Others accused the magazine of holding a ‘foreign agenda’ and is ‘funded by the West to implement homosexuality’ among people living in the Middle East.
The Media Commission of Jordan released a statement to state My Kali is not registered and, if proven to be printed, a lawsuit will follow.
In a statement to Gay Star News, MyKali said they had no plans to publish the magazine in a hard copy or become a formal registered entity in Jordan and is not sponsored or supported by any foreign government.
‘The Magazine has never aimed to undermine the traditions and culture of Jordanian society, nor does it endeavor to spread homosexuality as some have claimed,’ they said.
‘The e-zine merely believes in freedom of speech and exercises this right as an informal collective on the Internet, sharing with those who freely and voluntarily visit its website articles.
‘The Jordanian LGBTQ community has always been an inherent part of the country’s social fabric. It is not a foreign import or construct, nor does it have an agenda to debase Jordanian traditions.’