Frequently asked questions

Veelgestelde vragen introductie.

What does Merhaba mean?

'Merhaba' means 'welcome' in Arabic and Turkish. 

Why Merhaba?

Merhaba was founded in 2002 for and by women and men with roots in the Maghreb, the Middle East and Turkey that felt attracted to persons of the same sex. 

The organisation originated from the need of peers to come together and as a reaction on Western homonormativity. This was the start of a emancipatory process (internal) and of contributions towards social diversity through sharing experiences, knowledge and know how (external). 

In the last 10 years Merhaba developed her own vision and methodologie, contributed to a more open communication on sexual diversity in the own communities (ethno-cultural minorities) and contributed to the interculturalisation of the LGBTQI movement, the emergency and relief servics, education, civil society, and society as a whole. 


What does Merhaba stand for?

Merhaba is a movement of LGBTQI form ethno-cultural minorities that works at the crossing of culture, sexuality and identity, with gender and sexuale orientation as focus.  

Our aim is to promote the welfare, emancipation, social participation and acceptability of all LGBTQIs (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, queer, questioning en intersex persons) from ethno-cultural minorities. 

We do this on the one hand be offering easy access to the target groups (that is, to LGBTQIs from ethno-cultural minorities) and on the other hand by through their environment - informing and raising awareness (in the ethno-cultural minorities, the traditional LGBTQI movement, the educational and social services and the broader population). 

Having multiple identities, Merhaba moves easily between reference frameworks and social groups. In this way it can enter into respectful dialogue with, and build bridges between, the  different groups. 


What kind of organisation is Merhaba?

Merhaba is a pluralistic, inclusive ngo, recognized as a Beweging (Movement) by the Vlaams Gemeenschap (Flemish Community) and by the Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie (Flemish Community Commission in Brussels) as an organisation for ethno-cultural minorities. Merhaba is also subsidized by the City of Brussels, the Brussels-Capital Region, the King Baudoin Foundation and the Imulse Fund for Migration Policy. 

Merhaba for whom?

Merhaba is a movement comprising women, men and trans-gender persons mainly with roots in the Magreb, the Middle East, Turkey and sub-Saharan Africa who feel attracted by persons of the same sex and/or question their own sexuality or gender identity.

Merhaba defends the interest of all LGBTQI with roots outside the West, their partners and family, regardless the age, nationality, ethnic background, sexuale orientation, sex, gender, religion, philosophy, political conviction, education, social position or legal status. 

Merhaba is there for everyone with roots outside the West who has question about his/her sexual orientation and/or gender identity (male/female). 

  • LGBTQI -  Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender en Intersex persons from ethno-cultural minorities: Women that feel attracted to women, men that feel attracted to men, women that fall in love with women, men that fall in love with men, women that have sex with women, men that have sex with men, men that are like women, women that are like men, women that feel like a man, men that feel like a women, persons that feel both male and female, persons that are both male an female, persons that feel attracted to both men and women...
  • QUEER muslims
  • Family, partners and friends


Read more:  Reception/Aid, News, Activities, Knowledge Center


Merhaba is also there for professionals and the broader public


Professionals from the emergency and social services, the welfare sector, the social sector, education, the socio-cultural sector, ethnocultural minority organisations, the holebi-transgender movement, research, students, the press,...


Read More: PressKnowledge CentreNewsActivities

What does Merhaba offer?

  • Accessible reception 
  • Counseling 
  • Reference (internal and/or towards a network of trained partners, services, relief organizations, leisure activities,...)
  • Emancipatory and empowering activities 
  • An internet forum and chatrooms
  • Sociocultural and educational activities
  • Advocacy
  • Representation
  • Participation in the social debate
  • Sensitization 
  • Actions and campaigns
  • Worshops for professional, assistants, teach, LGBT groups and volunteers
  • Networking in the light of exchange, cooperation, reference and complementarity. 
  • Newswatching, blog, facebook groups and website


What are Merhaba's goals?

  • Fight discrimination and stigmatization related to gender and sexual orientation, regardless the person are hetero- or homosexual. 
  • Challenge mechanisms of sexism, heterosexism and heteronormativity that lead towards homophobia. 
  • Fight homonormativity, racism and islamophobia within the LGBTQI movement and in society. 
  • Defend the interest of our target groups
  • Information 
  • Sensitization 
  • Contribute to a better acceptation of LGBTQI from ethno-cultural minorities in their own communities
  • Enchance social participation
  • Contribute to the interculturalization of the LGBTQI movement, civil society, public and social service  
  • Promote respect and tolerance for diversity 
  • Contribute to a society where everyone has the courage to, can and is allowed to take his/her place 



What Merhaba does not?

Merhaba doesn't do everything itself. It is does however refer to third organizations. For judicial advice, monitoring of longterm psychotherapeutic assistance, help in finding work, help is finding proper housing...Merhaba effectively refers to a network of trained intermediaries and professionals. 

Merhaba works for the whole of Belgium. We are also member of international networks and participate in international cooperation. Even though we are not active aoroad, we can refer to associated organizations if possible. 


What makes Merhaba special?

Merhaba originated from a group of peers, with the power from within. Working in a domain with no previous expertise, we took it step by step. In 10 years we developed our own vision, methodology and expertise which we like to share it others. 

Being LGBTQI from ethno-cultural minorities we do not only face homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia, but also racism, exotism, paternalism and growing islamophia. This is a major challenge towards emancipation. 

Together with a large constituency of muslims and people with muslim background, we engage to make sexual diversiteit discussable in the own circles and at the same time challenge ideologies and actions that stigmatize muslim communities and that trigger islamophobia. We challenge the theory clashing civilizations and make our voice heard in the debate that leads away attention from growing social inequality, institutional racism and rising social exclusion. 

Merhaba is a pluralistic organization from and for minorities with plural identities. We welcome everyone that is attracted to the goals of our organization and with full respect can participate in building a society where everyone can be thereselves.  


What are our norms and values?

  • Respect for diversity 
  • Respect for the other 
  • Integrity 
  • Inclusion
  • Interculturality
  • Accessability 
  • Equality 
  • Justice
  • Patience 
  • Compassion 
  • Trust 
  • Engagement 
  • Responsibility 
  • A Healthy Critical & Self-Critical attitude




Our philosophy?

Merhaba doesn't believe in radical personal choices, but in inner processes. Merhaba doesn't believe in provovation, but in information, sensitization  and contributions to a better consciousness. 

The coming out discours and confrontational approach of the traditional gay and transmovements are not recognizable for everyone. That's why Merhaba works on alternatives that are more congruent with the needs of our target groups. We try to do this by being as accessible as possible, and this with respect for the selfdefinition of target groups (LGBTQI) on one hand, and respect for the tempo of their environment (ethno-cultural minorities). Our motto is: "the detour is the shortest way". 

Having plural identities (ethno-cultural minorities, LGBTQI...) Merhaba shifts between different frames of reference and communities: Our mission is to enhance respectful dialogue and to build bridges between different communities. 



Can I become a member of Merhaba?

Merhaba doesn't give out membership cards, since most of us do not want walk around with it in our wallet...You can become a member of our facebook group en register for the newsletter


How can I stay up-to-date on Merhaba's actions and activities

Register for the newsletter.

Become a member of our facebook group.

Check our site for news and activities



How can I get in touch with Merhaba?

Reception and help line:  MerhabaPhone: 0487 55 69 38

General Information and contact: