President and executive director, Helem
“I believe that we require a queer lens to effectively address global challenges.”
Leadership: Tarek Zeidan is president and executive director of Helem, the first LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy organization in the Arab world. Under his leadership, the organization provides protection for queer individuals, advocates for their rights, and has successfully lobbied to have inhumane practices by Lebanese security officials banned in cases involving LGBTQ+ community members. Helem empowers the LGBTQ+ community to defend their rights through its extensive community engagement and empowerment programs.
Helem’s work in Lebanon, with Tarek at the helm, has had a monumental impact, leading to the creation of legal precedent in six landmark cases in which judges ruled against the criminalization of same-sex relations and ruled in favor of trans* individuals’ right to change their gender markers.
Vision: LGBTQ+ rights have a long way to go to become integrated into the fight for freedoms and rights in MENA. Tarek aims to unlock policy and legislative change for the LGBTQ+ community by amplifying his organization’s leadership and vision.