Badia Hajj Hussein

Produced by: Yara Chehayed
Part of the Curated Collection: Taboos & Society,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: Lebanon
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My name is Badia Hussain, and I am thirty years old. I have been practicing social work since 2015 in many fields. I started with the National Confederation of Trade Unions in Lebanon, and then I turned to domestic workers and established a union for them. I have been working for child protection and gender justice for almost four years. I am Palestinian and residing in Lebanon, and therefore I do not have the right to address legal issues in Lebanon or work in this field. But frankly, social work attracted me a lot and I always chose to work more in social affairs. I try, as much as possible, to create a suitable place where I can help, and work with local associations, institutions, or civil society organizations, and I try to allow Palestinians to work without permission to practice a profession.

Until today, I have not been able to overcome the struggles, and I will not say that my life is 100 percent on this issue. But the idea is that I now choose the category with which to discuss, where I can present my point of view without being accused of infidelity or passing judgment on me. If people accuse me of blasphemy or insult me, I ignore them because in my opinion they will not understand my point of view nor will they understand my ability to actually separate God from man. I go back to saying that there are many situations that happen to us in our lives and that our Lord is merciful to us in them. Our Lord is more merciful than me and more merciful than us humans to rule the world. Recently, I learned that sexual orientation as an orientation is not forbidden, and there is no Quranic verse or any honorable prophetic hadith that says that it is forbidden. What is forbidden is to practice sexual relations, just as it is forbidden to have any sexual relations outside of marriage. In society, we often confuse customs and traditions with religion. Once we have a self-awareness of the first, we have an involuntary social awareness. And we begin to know the form of speech and expressions and how we can express them without society imposing taboos on us over the taboos that we live internally and very small conflicts, not only on the issue of gender or sex, but also there are small taboos in ourselves that we did not acknowledge.

Social taboos are almost always unfortunately present. For example, I am not always able to express my identity to some extent. If my family and my affiliation accept different ideas, then the surroundings around me do not accept societal taboos or even religious taboos. Each one of us has his own beliefs and ideas, but I am afraid when the discussion touches on the issue of the LGBT community. I support this society even though it gets its rights. I always receive this look, and that this is religiously forbidden, or how can you think about this issue while you are veiled, your religion does not say that. In these times they create a real internal conflict. But my relationship with God is something spiritual, I decide this relationship. My relationship with the person is human and he is free as long as he does not harm me. On the contrary, this person finds his identity, and he has full and every right to choose the identity that suits him. When I tell my distant or external surroundings that I have friends from the LGBT community, or if I defend their rights, I receive a look of contempt from them.

In Lebanon, there are many taboos. First, the sectarian taboos that force a person to follow sectarianism. For example, even though I am Palestinian, my family name is Hajj Hussein. When someone reads my name, he says to me: Are you from Baalbek? I answer involuntarily; No, I am not from Baalbek, I am Palestinian. This used to happen in the examination hall at the Lebanese University, because there is a frightening sectarian character in the hall. Honestly, in the first period, when I passed and registered my name and such details, they thought I was from Baalbek and considered me one of them. We have other taboos, for example, how can a Sunni marry a Shiite, or how can a Shiite marry a Sunni? We have religious taboos, but they are also more social taboos. If we marry outside the sect or religion, they are taboos.

This taboo does not apply to politicians, evidenced by the daughter of Walid Jumblatt, who married the son of Michel Daher. If any of the common people, a Druze, married a Christian, or vice versa, it would be lawful to slaughter them. Unfortunately, the social taboos in Lebanon are great, and present since 40 years ago today, we are not able to overcome them, because of a ruling political class on the basis of religion, sectarianism, and sectarianism. Before we look at the customs and traditions, let us look at the religion, the sect, the sheikh of the clan and the sheikh of the sect, what they say in order to shed light on the error in their discourse. At that time, I feel that we are able to establish a sound infrastructure for a homeland.