The prize is awarded in Raoul Wallenberg’s spirit. What does it mean for you? Being gay from Iraq and a political refugee in Sweden made me feel like I don’t have a real home. I’m not welcome in Iraq because I’m gay, and I don’t feel fully safe in Sweden because I’m a refugee and my rights might disappear at any time! Especially because of what’s happening around the world! But when I was told that I was a finalist for the this prize.I felt very emotional because even though I’m not a Swedish citizen, there are a lot of Swedes who want to encourage me to continue fighting for human rights. The association of this prize with a person like Raoul Wallenberg who was familiar with the feelings of sacrifice and loss. Someone who actively helped refugees. The kind of person I get inspired by motivates even more.
Tell us about your organization, how do you make a difference? IraQueer is the first and only LGBT+ organisation from Iraq/KurdistanRegion and is registered in Sweden. I founded it in 2015 after two months from arriving to Sweden. With a team of 9 employees, and a network of 200+ individuals. We have been focusing on knowledge production, international advocacy, and service provision. We have reached more than 200000 people.
Tell us about a role model that meant a lot to you. My mother is my role model. She worked hard to claim her place in a male dominant society, working and raising 4 kids at the same time. She always pushed my limits. Every time I tell her that I want to be Iraq’s prime minister one day, she always replies “Of course you will”. Since I became a more visible gay activist, she made sure she showed her love more.
How would you want to use the prize amount for your future work against intolerance? We want to introduce LGBT+ Iraqis to topics like legal rights and documentation and how it’s important for LGBT+ individual to document the violations they face, and to know what to do with them. But winning this prize will be more than the money, It will be an opportunity to show what asylum seekers can do! How we want to contribute to the world if we were given the chance. It’s crucial for progressive countries like Sweden to continue taking refugees! If I wasn’t able to get my political protection in Sweden, I might have not been alive today, and the queer movement in Iraq might have not been started.