New online Arabic magazine to provide platform for gay writers

First Arabic language platform for gay writers hopes to "challenge taboos" in Islamic society

A new online magazine based in Israel will include articles and features by gay and lesbian authors, marking a first for Arabic language journalism. was launched on Monday by author Ala Hlehel and Anton Shalhat, a journalist and culture critic, with support from Arab and Palestinian writers and intellectuals.

"We are doing this to allow gays to speak out, to leave their ghetto and to become a natural part of Palestinian and Arab culture," said Hlehel.

He hopes that the magazine will challenge taboos and the limits of free speech in Arab and Islamic societies.

The website's founding statement says that rebellious or 'non-conservative' writing should not fall victim to erasure just because its dissemination angers some people or offends sensitivities.

The website will carry writing on literature, cinema, theater, music, visual art and political analysis. Distinguished poets, writers and academics from the Middle East are expected to contribute.

Hlehel has named the site after his ancestral village which was destroyed during the 1948 war when the Jewish state of Israel was created.