As promotor of the “Allah Loves Equality” campaign, Italian-Pakistani film director Wajahat Abbas Kazmi traveled to Pakistan in November, along with fellow activist and member of Il Grande Colibrì association, Elena De Piccoli, to film a documentary that will be entitled like the campaign. The film will finally raise up the voices of gay, lesbian and transsexual people in Pakistan.
Defending Human Rights
Kazmi, who is also an activist with Amnesty International, returned from his recent trip to find a pleasant surprise. He was named Young Activist of the Year from the Italian Coalition for Freedom and Rights (CILD). The award is given to individuals who distinguish themselves in the promotion and protection of civil liberties, human rights and democratic principles in Italy. The director received the award Friday December 15 at 5pm during a ceremony at the “Biblioteca interculturale Cittadini del mondo” in Rome.
In addition to Kazmi, others will be awarded for human rights work in different fields, including: Swimmers Manila Flamini and Giorgio Minisini, former footballer Damiano Tommasi, Manlio Milani, the “Giulio siamo noi” Twitter account (set up following Giulio Regeni’s murder), lawyer Fabio Anselmo (in the forefront of trials for people who have died due to police brutality), recently deceased journalist Alessandro Leogrande, and public employee Franco Lorenzoni, who launched a campaign to approve the “ius soli” citizenship law for foreigners born in Italy.
“We are very pleased with the award given to Wajahat,” who is also one of the founders of association, said Il Grande Colibrì president Pier Cesare Notaro. “The ‘Allah Loves Equality’ campaign has been a great success from many standpoints. Many people have expressed interest, we have raised awareness in order to fight prejudice, and we’ve been able to support the making of a very important documentary film. None of this would have been possible without Wajahat’s courage and commitment, as well as that of other activists in our association. This award is an important milestone on the road to promote acceptance of LGBTQIA Muslims that started over 6 years ago in a climate of generalized skepticism and often open hostility.”
Kazmi’s Own Words
“I am very pleased with this award, even though I do believe that may other people deserve it as mucf or even more than me,” Wajahat Abbas Kazmi said. “It was great to be welcomed back to Italy with this award.” The director then spoke briefly about the four weeks he spent filming and gathering large amounts of material for the documentary, which now must be sifted through and edited. “My trip to Pakistan was exciting and we connected with a lot of activists and other people.”
“I think we have a lot to learn from these people”, Kazmi went on to say. “The vast majority told us that they do not want to leave their country because ‘if we leave this country, who will be here to bring change?’ We met people in Pakistan who were much more courageous in coming out than immigrants and second generation immigrants living in Europe – even though in Europe they experience less discrimination and do not risk their life at the hand of intolerant people who consider being gay to be a form of blasphemy.”
Documentary in Progress
Filming was aided by Kazmi and De Piccoli’s meticulous preparation and their network of contacts and friends who helped the small troupe optimize their time. “But we did have some difficult moments” the two activists explained. They found themselves in the middle of Islamic protestors demanding the resignation of Zahid Hamid, the Minister of Justice, who then started yelling at a transgender activist [Dawn]. “We were literally just a few feet from the protestors who were launching verbal attacks of blasphemy. Then checkpoints were set up at every road out of the city, but luckily the Minister’s resignation a few days later calmed things down.”
In the following days, we will be talking more about the progress in working on the “Allah Loves Equality. Can you be Gay and Muslim?” documentary. We would like to thank all those who have contributed to our crowdfunding so far. We would also like to remind you that contributions are open until the end of year on the Produzioni dal Basso website. The minimum fundraising goal has been reached, but there are a lot of expenses and the post-production work has additional costs. So, if you have a bit of money left from holiday shopping, you know how to use it!
translation by Peter Luntz
©2017 Il Grande Colibrì