Around the globe radio gives a voice to LGBT people

Melbourne has a 24 hour gay radio station with JOY 94.9, and Perth’s RTRFM 92.1 has had a succession of gay focused radio programs over it’s four decades including All Things Queer which airs on Wednesday mornings.

While gay programs on Australian radio have played a big part in giving the queer community a voice in some countries that journey is just beginning. Tunisia and India are two countries where LGBT voices are just starting to be heard on the airwaves.

In Tunisia, a country where homosexuality is illegal, a new radio program for gay people has just begun broadcasting as an online station.

Set up by Shams – an LGBT rights group – Shams Radio operates under the banner of “dignity and equality”. The prominent rights advocates who set up the station have been subjected to threats but they are determined to get their message out to a wider audience.

Bouhdid Belhadi, the Director General of the new station has said the station hopes to air stories of the everyday lives of LGBT people in the hope that all listeners will begin to realise that gay people are in all parts of society and just like everyone else.

The station is believed to be the first of it’s kind in the region.

Earlier this year India also got it’s first LGBT radio show. Prominent gay rights activist Harish Iyer launched his show Gaydio  a few months ago.

Being gay itself its not illegal in India, but homosexual acts are, a remnant of British Colonial Law that in recent times has been more strictly enforced.

Speaking to Radio France International earlier this year Iyer said it was important that India had a show for LGBT people.

“The reason we need to have a show like this is that unless we stress on issues like these, we will only have one kind of flavour to love and people will not open their minds.”

The show which airs on a mainstream radio station every Sunday evening features coming out stories, parent’s sharing their experiences of accepting gay children and transgender people’s experiences.

Iyer said the show was having ripple effect and giving a lot of people the encouragement and confidence to come out. The host says he gets lots of threats from conservatives who are offended by the show’s content, but he views the threats as a sign that he’s doing things right.

Graeme Watson

Graeme is on-air at RTRFM, and regularly appears on Melbourne’s JOY 949.

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