Every three weeks, another Brussels-based creative shares their view of the world. JAOUAD ALLOUL shines and sparkles at the crossroads of music, theatre, poetry, fashion and more.
“I will not rest when it comes to building a Union of equality.” That is how the European Commission's President Ursula von der Leyen began her State of the European Union address already a year ago. She spoke these words in the heart of Europe, Brussels. For myself and many others in the capital of Europe, one of the reasons why I love this city more and more every day.
It is here in Brussels that the world comes together, where concepts such as freedom and equality are celebrated. This is once again evident when it comes to LGBTQI+ rights. Von der Leyen made it clear to Poland that LGBT-free zones have no place in the European Union. A beautiful gesture and a powerful statement, but also part of the kind of political theatre in which the playwright has a tremendous love of drama. I personally don't know Ursula very well at all and opinions on her are divided, but she is clearly pro-LGBTQI+ rights. Is that sincere or about tactics?
The European Union is watching Hungary and Poland with suspicion, because they are showing their true colours. Along the lines of: “We're not against it, but it doesn't have to be shoved in our faces constantly either.” Thus, these member states “approve” legislation that makes life difficult for many LGBTQI+ individuals. Then you can question the words that are now coming out of Brussels: “What's happening there can't, mustn't and shouldn't be done.” Strong words, but what is really being done?
So you end up in a situation where there are a lot of threats and plenty of theatrics being played out, but the lives of the many LGBTQI+ individuals in those countries are not improving. An outward show with monologues that would make the best theatre maker fall over backwards. Politics is theatre, but what are the politicians if “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players”? These are the people who put LGBTQI+ rights on top in their statements, but at the same time manage to question the right to flee and get asylum. LGBTQI+ rights are still very young, barely a little over 50 years old. We too have had to flee, have been persecuted, spat at and murdered. Even the police were plenty guilty of that, the same institution that now cheerfully joins in on the Pride, the grand celebration of the LGBTQI+ community.
That is a good evolution according to many, although I have my doubts about it. Just as I doubt whether I should celebrate Ursula for standing up for my LGBTQI+ family or at least keep a close eye on her. What's going to happen now, Ursula? What's the deal? Censoring Poland and Hungary in front of the cameras is one thing, but what about sanctions against countries that base campaigns on homophobia and transphobia? What with the heart of Europe itself, where I was recently harassed by two men for making out with a man. Let us sweep in front of our own door so we can be an example to countries like Hungary and Poland. Now it is too often limited to outward show, and I'm getting too old for big promises. I want results, Ursula, now!