Cork Pride in UCC 2023
Cork Pride in UCC 2023
The EDI Unit are delighted to once more be bringing Cork Pride to UCC campus. Join us next week to celebrate LGBT+ culture and history, and show solidarity with our LGBT+ friends, colleagues and students against the ongoing attacks on LGBT+ lives, lifestyles and livelihoods.
Schedule of events:
- Monday 31st 11:00-12:00 Pride Tea Party at the Hub – come for (short) speeches, entertainment and rainbow-sprinkled ice cream, and ‘Find your Pride Pal’ with the UCCSU or learn more about the Proud Student Ally Network (led by the Graduate Attributes Programme) while you’re there.
- Wednesday 2nd 12:00-13:00 Pride Stride’n’Ride all the way from B to C (from Boole to Cooperage) – scoot, walk, cycle, run, wheel your way from the Boole Library down the River Walk to the Cooperage for tea and a bun and back again. Decorate your self and/or your wheels for the occasion.
- Thursday 3rd 12:30-14:00 The Quay Co-op Documentary and Discussion at the Film and Screen Media screening room in the Kane Building – join us to watch the birth and growth of a Cork City treasure and listen to a discussion on the Cork Pride 2023 theme ’30 years on’. Light lunch will be available. Register here.
- Sunday 6th Join UCC in the parade in the city centre – Le Chéile le Bród! Register here.
UCCSU are separately hosting a series of events – more details here. UCCSU President, Colm Foley said “Together, we will raise our voices to address the issues faced by LGBTQ+ students today, paving the way for a more inclusive and compassionate society.”
And all week you can visit the library and check out the Boole’s Cork Pride exhibition, covering a range of books, DVDs and other media by and about the LGBT+ community. You are welcome to borrow any of the items on display.
We look forward to seeing you there at some or all of these events!
Interview with Basira Paigham
Basira Paigham came to Ireland from Afghanistan in 2021 after the return of the Taliban to power. She is a gender and LGBT activist who has been recognised in the BBC’s 100 Women of 2021, she founded the first official organisation for the Afghan LGBTQ+ community, AfghanLGBT and she has been published in various magazines writing on the topics of LGBT+ freedom, Afghan women and gender equality. A recent article in Routed magazine can be read here: Dark Hollows which Swallow my Dreams: Socio-cultural norms against LBQ women in Afghanistan (routedmagazine.com) In May, she spoke in UCC at the invitation of the LGBT+ Staff Network and after this the EDI Unit invted her for a short interview to mark Cork Pride in UCC. We would like to thank Basira for her time and considered answers.
It’s fair to say that your (public) identity could be stated as being “Basira – LGBT/women’s rights activist and refugee.” Do you agree with that statement and, if so, how do you feel about this?
Yes, Basira Paigham, Afghan queer woman and Human rights defender of LGBTQIA+ and refugee.
How have your experiences shaped your trajectory in this aspect?
From a young age, I struggled with strict gender norms that society imposed on me. I tried to adapt to these norms, but deep down, it was hurting me and preventing me from pursuing my true passions. However, when I achieved financial independence, I finally broke free from these limitations and started being true to myself.
Since then, I have devoted myself to being a voice for the LGBTQIA+ community and working towards creating a society where everyone can embrace their individuality and supported those who were facing gender-based violence and sexual violence because of who they are or who they love. I have also taken a stand against harmful stereotypes that restrict people from expressing their true gender identity and sexual orientation.
Since 2016, I have been actively advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights, and in 2021, I co-founded the first official organization for Afghan LGBT+ (about us - Afghan LGBT Organization).
When you arrived in Ireland, you had little spoken English and were missing home. Can you tell us how you navigated your arrival and settling in Ireland – how you found a tribe, a home?
I used to work as a Senior Gender Specialist with Concern Worldwide organization until the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021. After that not only I lost my right to work This put me at risk, and I started receiving threats.
Facing such danger, I had to make a tough decision to leave my country. In October 2021, I arrived in Ireland and sought refuge in the Dungarvan refugee center. It was incredibly challenging to start my life from scratch as a refugee in a foreign country, and I struggled with depression during this period.
In December 2021, my life took a new turn when BBC recognized me as one of the 100 most influential women of the year as an Afghan LGBTQIA+ human rights defender. However, this recognition worsened my situation. The Afghan community in Ireland excluded me from their gatherings and ridiculed me because of my activism. I even faced physical violence.
Amidst these difficulties, I tried reaching out to LGBTQIA+ communities in Ireland through online platforms. Luckily, I found some supportive community like LINC and LGBT Ireland that embraced diversity. My situation started improving, but I still worry about my family back in Afghanistan. Some of my close relatives have joined the Taliban, and they are threatening my family because of my gender identity and activism. The safety and well-being of my family are a constant concern for me.
When you arrived first, you were in an accommodation centre for a few months. Can you tell us about that experience? Did you have (or were you able to create) a sense of community or connection with the other residents there?
I want to express my gratitude to the Irish government and the people of Ireland for welcoming Afghanistan refugees like me. I spent four months in a refugee camp in Dungarvan, and I must say that the management team there was very kind and supportive towards the refugees. They encouraged us to interact more and build connections.
During my time at the camp, I took the initiative to organize a storytelling club for kids. It was a wonderful experience where we gathered and shared stories. Additionally, we had movie nights on weekends, showing inspirational films that sparked creativity and encouraged the kids to think about their future goals and what brings them happiness and fulfillment.
I noticed that kids seemed to integrate more easily than the adults in the camp. This might be because many of the adults had difficulty speaking English, which made it challenging for them to communicate and interact with others. Nonetheless, the efforts made by the management team and the activities we organized helped create a sense of community and support among the refugees.
Is there a close Afghan community in Ireland?
Yes, there are several. Due to ethical background of Afghanistan refugees, they have separate communities which usually celebrates the Eid and Nawroz.
How can people here help women, girls and the LGBT community in Afghanistan in the long and short term?
Solidarity and standing Afghanistan women and LGBTQIA+ in these tough days a humanitarian responsibility to all of us. For short term, issuing humanitarian visa for those who are under risk in Afghanistan and for long-term providing educational opportunity like scholarships and advocating in international platform.