Straightening Ali

Straightening Ali
Straightening Ali cover

Amjeed Kamil, 35, has just released his debut novel.

Straightening Ali is about “family ties,” “conflicting cultures” and love. It is the story of a British Pakistani gay man whose family pressures him to enter an arranged marriage. And although a work of fiction, the narrative rings true to life.

Last month, CNN’s Seth Doane filed this video report from New Delhi, bringing attention to the struggles often concomitant with being gay in India.

“Being gay in India can get one thrown into jail in this country because of a section of the Indian Penal Code (Section 377) which criminalizes same-sex relationships,” Doane says. “The law, drafted in the 1860s when the British were still ruling … India, states: ‘Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature … shall be punished with imprisonment … and shall also be liable to fine’.”

Members of India’s LGBT communities report feeling marginal and unsafe says Doane. Some gay men see marriage as a ‘way out.’

Gautam Bhan is a Delhi-based queer rights activist and author of the book Because I Have A Voice. “A lot of gay men use marriage to be free. A lot of gay men use marriage in order to be with their boyfriends,” says Bhan, “You can wear a tiara and a ballgown … but if someone asks you, and you say: ‘Well, no, no I have a wife,’ then you’re done, you’re clear. You can do whatever want.”

More:

Amjeed Kamil on MySpace and elsewhere
The Naz Foundation supports members of India’s LGBT communities
Read Gautam Bhan’s blog
Purchase Straightening Ali
Facebook gets rid of Arab LGBT group at the request of Saudi, Egyptian governments
India opens its first condom bar

April 30, 2007
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