Amir Ashour is not someone who’s happy to hide in the shadows. As Iraq’s only openly LGBT activist, he was always going to court attention. Since embarking on his mission to visibly champion LGBT rights, he’s been arrested and detained twice, lost friends and extended family, can no longer return to Iraq, and been forced to relocate permanently to Sweden.
But in the face of such resistance, and at great risk to his personal safety, he’s managed to set up the country’s first LGBT rights organisation, IraQueer, which is forced to operate underground. One year on, its 40 members have never met face-to-face, instead communicating exclusively through social media and apps such as Grindr.