CLWA's first reading group of the semester was a great success, with many CLWA members in attendance.  Professor Katherine Franke presented her paper entitled "Ahmadinejad Comes to Columbia: The Perils of Standing Up for the Gays".  The paper discussed the way sexual rights have been used as a foreign policy tool, often for negotiations that have nothing to do with homosexuality.  She talked about Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia several years ago when he was quoted as saying that there are no gay people in Iran, and how this has been used by Israel as evidence of their moral superiority over Iran and the rest of the Middle East.  Students in attendance raised questions such as why gay rights instead of women's rights or any other minority groups, issues of cultural imperialism, personal reactions to Ahmadinejad's speech, conceptions of gay identity in the Middle East, and comparisons to other cultures.  The gay character on the new Israeli version of "The Office" was also discussed and how his presence is explicitly to teach a lesson about tolerance of gays in the Middle East.

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