Nemat Sadat: Meet Afghanistan’s first openly gay, supporting LGBTQ rights for Muslims

Neemat Sadat is the first Afghanistan resident to publicly come out as gay and fight for the rights of LGBTQ in the Muslim community not just in Afghanistan but worldwide. After revealing his identity, he had to face a lot of hardships. He was forced to move out of his country and a fatwa was issued against him. But these things doesn’t bother Sadat, he continues to fight for the rights of LGBTQ in the Muslim communities. While teaching at the American University, he is said to start a gay movement for the protection of LGBTQ right but was later persecuted by the authorities and was labeled as a threat to national security for allegedly subverting Islam. The activist recently turned forty and celebrated the day with the launch of his recent book ‘The Carpet Weaver’ in New Delhi.

Early Life

Sadat was born in Afghanistan, but fled to the US with his family after the war broke out in 1979. After the 9/11, he moved to the East Coast. Because coming from a Muslim background and being an Afghan refugee made the situation worst for him. He has earned six university degrees that includes graduate degrees from Harvard, Columbia and Oxford.

Coming out

At the age of 23, Sadat came out to himself about his identity. In 2012, he came out publicly about his identity while he was teaching at the American University of Afghanistan. After he came out to his parents, he was told to confine his sexuality and engage with women.

The Carpet Weaver

The activist recently turned forty, he celebrated the day with the launch of his first book ‘The Carpet Weaver’, representing his work over 11 years. The novel’s beautiful narration about the protagonist Kanishka Nurzada, the sixteen year old who is love with his best friend Maihan. To add to the dilemmas are the Islam centric policies and a war in Afghanistan. The novel is set in three countries – Afghanistan, America and Pakistan and explores love, sexuality and identity in turbulent times.

Fact: Before his book was published, he faced 450 rejections.

The Obama Connection

Sadat started writing the book 11 years back. In an interview to The Indian Express, Sadat reveals his inspiration behind writing the book. He tells he was inspired to write the book the day Barack Obama got the nomination instead of Hilary Clinton for the presidential election. He feels if a black man can win a nomination from such a political party in the US, then he can surely write a book. After his stint in Kabul, he was left homeless and jobless. It was only the novel that was the motivation for his living.

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