Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

REVISITED

In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • Analysis Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • Police seek arrest warrant for South Korea ferry captain

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Video: Tensions remain high in Mariupol despite Geneva deal

    Read more

  • In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

    Read more

  • Deadly avalanche strikes Everest in worst-ever disaster

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Eurostar train mishap causes 'severe' delays

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

Africa

Being gay in Algeria: ‘I’ll never live with the one I love’

©

Text by Assiya HAMZA

Latest update : 2013-10-11

Thursday was the seventh national LGBT day in Algeria, a country in which homosexuality is illegal. FRANCE 24 spoke with Amelle, an Algerian lesbian who hides her sexual preference rather than risk prison time and familial shame.

Under Algerian law, Amelle* is guilty.

Her crime: a sexual preference for women.

In order to avoid the risk of a fine or prison sentence, the 27-year-old long ago decided to renounce her right to a love life.

Alouen, a gay rights association in Algeria, marked the seventh consecutive “LGBT day” on Thursday, October 10, calling for Algerians at home and abroad to light a candle in support of homosexuals in the North African country.

“It’s to show that we’re there, that we exist,” Amelle told FRANCE 24.

The pain of forbidden love

Beyond lighting a candle, Amelle does little to reveal or suggest her sexuality. She says that she “always knew and felt that there was something different” about her. It wasn’t until age 16 that she realized she was gay.

“It wasn’t a shock,” the Algiers resident, the oldest of four children, said softly. “I was able to talk about it with people close to me. My friends did not have a violent or negative reaction, even though they thought it was just an adolescent phase. So that helped.”

Amelle had several flings with women, but her first serious lesbian relationship came when she was 19. The experience was formative – and painful.

“It was hard living a forbidden love,” she confided. “I couldn’t take it. Seeing each other twice a week wasn’t enough. When you love someone, you want to live with the person.”

As a result, Amelle made the somewhat radical decision to deny her desires and her needs.

“I avoid meeting women. I know that if I like someone, I’ll fall in love and end up suffering. It’s easier to stay single,” she said.

Today, she seems resigned to her fate. “I live in Algeria. I’ll never be able to live with the one I love. That’s just the way it is.”

A marriage of convenience

According to Algerian custom, a young woman leaves her family only to marry, and sexuality is not supposed to exist outside the institution of marriage.

The solution, Amelle decided, was to leave Algeria and go as far away as possible.

She chose Canada.

She is currently applying for her visa, but leaving Algeria has proven complicated.

“My mother told me that I could go wherever I want, as long as I was married,” Amelle said. So, like many gay Algerians, Amelle is planning a “rainbow marriage” – the term used to describe a union between a gay man and a lesbian that allows them to avoid suspicion of their true sexual preference, bring an end to family pressure, and pursue same-sex sexual relationships if they so choose.

“Rainbow marriage” groups have flourished on social networks in recent years. For the past year, Amelle has been the administrator of a Facebook page called “Marriages of convenience between gays and lesbians” (translated from French), where individuals can publish announcements or requests.

“I sense that my mother is suspicious. Everyone asks me ‘What are you waiting for to get married? You’re beautiful, and men are lining up,’” Amelle recounted. “I say that I’m not ready, but my mother reminds me that by my age, she had already given birth to me and my brother.”

For Amelle, a “rainbow marriage” would, above all, be a path to motherhood. “In our society, a single woman can’t have a child,” she noted.

Amelle has met potential suitors for a “rainbow marriage”, but has no concrete plans for the moment.

A gradually evolving society

Some, though not many, gay Algerians are lucky enough to have “open-minded family members”, Amelle explained. Her aunt, for example, “often asks me why I don’t have a girlfriend”, she said.

Thanks to television, which offers Algerian society a window onto the world beyond its borders, mentalities in the country are starting to change. “Especially with what happened in France – gay marriage being legalised – that opened up a debate here,” Amelle said. “I have several colleagues who say they aren’t against it. Things are evolving, and it’s a relief.”

But Amelle’s parents are still in the dark when it comes to their daughter’s sexuality.

“It would hurt them too much, especially my mother. It would be like telling them that they failed in raising their child,” she said, citing the importance of her role as the oldest sibling and her moral obligation to take care of her parents as they get older.

“There is nothing more important than the love for one’s parents. What I fear most in the world is seeing my mother unhappy. I wouldn’t be able to bear being the cause of that,” she told FRANCE 24.

Amelle has often thought about coming out of the closet to her parents – before deciding against it.

“I don’t have the right to break her heart,” she said. “I would rather suffer than see her suffer. It’s the price I have to pay.”
 


*Name changed to protect identity

 

Date created : 2013-10-11

  • FRANCE

    Paris to host 2018 Gay Games

    Read more

  • SERBIA

    Serbia bans Gay Pride for third consecutive year

    Read more

  • VENICE FILM FESTIVAL

    Exclusive interview: 'There is a place for gays in Islam'

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)