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Harry’s support of Meghan’s gender equality action hailed by Iraqi LGBT activist

IraQueer founder Amir Ashour said the Duke of Sussex’s appearance at an event about female empowerment was an indication of its importance to him.

Harry made a surprise appearance alongside Meghan at a roundtable discussion she chaired (Toby Melville/PA)
Harry made a surprise appearance alongside Meghan at a roundtable discussion she chaired (Toby Melville/PA)

By Mike Bedigan, PA

The founder of the first Iraqi LGBT+ organisation, Amir Ashour, praised the Duke of Sussex for supporting his wife in her action on gender equality.

Mr Ashour, 29, took part in a roundtable discussion on Friday, chaired by Meghan, which focused on female empowerment and creating “space” for all identities.

Asked about Harry’s surprise appearance at the event at Windsor Castle, Mr Ashour, 29, said: “It was really surprising, it’s always a big pleasure to have him, but also more than that it was a big indication of how important it is for the both of them and how much time and energy they are willing to invest in this, because I know they are very busy people.

“They were asking questions and getting engaged and on a personal level I think, generally, straight men where I come from are not positive role models a lot of the time, so it was very encouraging to see that people do exist who are supporting what I do and really care and listen and are actually willing to take action.”

Mr Ashour set up IraQueer five years ago and says that the organisation has reached over six million people in that time.

He said that it was “empowering” to have the duke and duchess on board in spite of the intense media scrutiny they have received recently.

He said: “I was surprised at how genuine they were and just real people. There was no facade. It’s amazing that they’re using their platforms to bring in young people and bring other people to the table and really try to make a difference.

“She (Meghan) is loved and appreciated and looked to by so many of us and obviously the duke is also a role model of what a model man should be and how they should give the space to other identities and empower women, queer people and other minorities and look at people as people, and not just identities.

“I think that anyone who tries to change a lot of things in the world is going to face all kinds of things. No one is going to be able to please everyone. If anything, it’s an indication of how much she’s trying to redefine and reshape a lot of the conversations we are used to traditionally.

“I think it’s going to be very empowering to people like me who come from conservative backgrounds where the norms are so strict and you cannot do anything. It’s great to see someone in a such a position who is able and willing and continuing to redefine these norms.

“The fact that both of them came is an indication that there will be a lot of actions. We’re not going to only wait for them to support, we’re going to try and support them too, because no-one can do anything alone. We’re going to try and work on gender equality and LGBT+ rights.

“I come from a country where I don’t really have access to my own government, the people that I am supposed to look up to and supposed to be served by. Not only do they not have meetings with us but they actually are violating our rights so to have two influential people here who are willing to not only listen but to support movements and lead by example. It’s inspiring.”

This is the couple’s first engagement together since their emotional television documentary, Harry And Meghan: An African Journey, was broadcast earlier in October.

PA

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