My life as a gay man in post-Gaddafi Libya

Published: March 2, 2012

There is hope for the future among Libyans after the revolution, including LGBT people, but a recognition that progress towards a freer society may be slow.

In a previous interview we spoke with Khaleed, a 31-year-old gay activist from the east of Libya about his experiences under the Gadaffi regime. Now, in this second part, we interview him about his life in the post-revolutionary Libya.

Following the removal of Colonel Gaddafi’s dictatorship, Khaleed, like many Libyans, is full of hope and concern for their future. Their country, society and cultures are now going to start to forge a new identity which was so forcefully bound up with the Gaddafi family the ruled Libya with an iron fist for over 40 years.

Khaleed is clear he is ‘more hopeful now’. He has good reasons to be, Libyans know they have great resources as the world’s eighth-largest oil reserves and hope the damage from the bloody seven months civil war can be fixed quickly. Everyone hopes that its resources can be exploited and lead to a rapid economic development.

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It is clear that this is no easy journey, last year in early November many of the local militia leaders who helped topple Colonel Gaddafi (killed 20 October 2011) have not heeded the pledge they made earlier to give up their weapons. They said that they intended to preserve their autonomy and influence political decisions as ‘guardians of the revolution’ and sources indicate there are over a quarter of a million of such heavily armed militiamen.

The issue of the militias is one of the most urgent facing Libya’s new provisional government, the Transitional National Council. And Khaleed agrees this is the ‘biggest issue facing us’. The second is building civil society, law and order and stabilising the economy.

Khaleed lives in the east of Libya, away from the capital Tripoli, in an area that was dominated by the resistance from an early stage on and therefore relatively stable as well as shielded from the civil war. Elsewhere however the death toll and violence was horrific, there were even reports of gang rape by Gaddafi’s men of both men and women. During the fighting I lost touch Khaleed for over six months, as the internet and phone lines to Libya were cut off, I was extremely worried during this time and felt so relieved to hear he was alive and well in September 2011.

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