Faika El-Nagashi was banned from European Lesbian Conference. The Austrian Green politician was unregistered less than 24 hours before the conference was set to begin in Budapest – the city of her birth. Eurocentralasian Lesbian* Community, the organization behind this annual conference, asserted that her “recent public statements” would “go against EL*C core values.”
A shocking claim, given that El-Nagashi has nurtured the conference since it began. In addition to serving on the board, she helped organize the two previous conferences, in Vienna and Kyiv. According to her own Twitter thread El-Nagashi managed the EL*C’s finances, worked to help the organization retain charitable status, helped select workshops for previous conferences, and spent a considerable amount of time moderating sessions.
Her support has been crucial to the success of the EL*C. Furthermore, the biography of El-Nagashi listed on their website offers glowing praise for her politics and credentials:
“Faika El-Nagashi is a long-time lesbian & feminist human rights advocate. She is a political scientist by vocation, political activist by passion, and politician by profession. Her expertise is on women’s and human rights, (women’s) migration, development cooperation, integration and diversity politics, intersectionality and LGBTIQ rights.”
Faika El-Nagashi has an unshakeable commitment to human rights, advocating for lesbians across Europe. The EL*C itself admits it. Yet in an email with the subject “EL*C is a Trans-Inclusive Space”, conference organizers informed El-Nagashi that she was no longer welcome. “As you know, EL*C strongly supports trans and gender diverse inclusion and visibility… For that reason, we cannot accept your registration for the Budapest Conference.”
The EL*C cited El-Nagashi’s “recent public statements” as the reason for their decision. So, what did she say that deserves this treatment? Which of her recent comments merit this ban from a conference she helped build?
In an interview with Falter, a weekly Austrian news magazine, El-Nagashi spoke out against a banner encouraging people to punch “TERFs.” She observed that the term “TERF” is an intensely gendered insult, used to demean women specifically.
In addition, she challenged the intimidation of Bette Midler, Martina Navratilova, J.K. Rowling, Kathleen Stock, Macy Gray, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – all sent abusive, threatening messages for opposing self-ID policies on the grounds they impact women’s rights and spaces.
After a group of lesbians were attacked at Cologne Dyke March, El-Nagashi condemned the violence. She said that the debate around sex and gender needed to calm down, and that discussion rather than violence was the solution to this conflict.
Every last one of her recent comments is in keeping with the values listed on the EL*C website. The EL*C aim “to tackle the prevalence of misogyny and sexism within the broader LGBTIQ movement”, and this is exactly what Faika El-Nagashi did by opposing violent misogyny.
It is important to note that El-Nagashi has said expressed no prejudice or hate against people identifying as transgender, which makes the EL*C’s choice to cancel her conference registration all the more shocking.
“With your decision to exclude me from the conference, you have gone down a divisive path,” she Tweeted. “You know me, my track record, my work, my commitment. I have not changed. With your decision, you say to lesbians everywhere: There is no space for you here.”
In spite of being ostracized by the EL*C, El-Nagashi’s commitment to lesbian community remains strong. “I am more convinced than ever to speak up,” she said. “For the young lesbians who are new to this and the old ones who built so much. For those who want to fight for the visibility and rights of lesbians. For our differences and for what we share. I am in Budapest. My DMs are open.
“I am happy to meet, discuss and connect – and to rebuild an actual lesbian movement.”
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