About The Laadheenee

Advocating for queer, religious, and political rights for all Maldivians

News, art, and writing from the Maldivian Laadheenee Community.

A Laadheenee Collective that aims to spread awareness about the lives of Maldivian minorities and other people who are labelled laadheenee. We post articles and writings from Laadheenee Maldivians which we then collect into a magazine – The Laadheenee Digest. We spread awareness about the right to freedom of religion, and for the rights of LGBTQI+ Maldivians. We also report on news and other information relating to the struggles of Laadheenee people.

The Laadheenee is written by Laadheenee people for Laadheenee people.

A short note on the word “laadheenee”.

  • Literal meaning: Not (laa) Religious (dheenee)
  • Not really Dhivehi in origin. Nobody uses “laa” to mean no in Dhivehi. It is an arab loan word.
  • Used to call someone irreligious in some way. Also directed at LGBTQI people whether or not they’re religious. Many Muslim LGBTQI people are also called laadheenee simply for being themselves.
  • Could be used to call someone a secularist, or a hypocrite (munafiq) or an apostate (murtad), or a blasphemer. The actual Dhivehi word for secular is illmaanee.
  • The word has even been spray painted on the walls of houses of people who have been suspected to be “laadheenee”. This may have been more related to its political usage as a slur against opposing parties rather than its usage against Maldivian minorities. However, the slur is ultimately accusing these political parties of belonging to or supporting non-Muslims or LGBTQI people. To date there isn’t a single political party that has even acknowledged the existence of Maldivian minorities other than as a boogeyman or scapegoat.
  • A dog whistle for “kafir” (infidel). Ultimately always means this (if not used ironically by progressive people).
  • The goal of this word is to stereotype and group Maldivian non-Muslims and LGBTI people as a homogenous entity that is actively working against “Islam” and the very fabric of the nation itself. It is much easier to ascribe conspiracy theories to “laadheenee” meehun (people) this way. This is similar to the way white supremacists say things like “the jews” or “the blacks”. The laadheenee meehun are apparently out to destroy the Maldives, it’s culture, it’s heritage, and it’s national unity. This is despite laadheenee meehun being regular Dhivehin just like everybody else.

What the word “laadheenee” means to our readers (from The Laadheenee Digest #2)

Fucking nothing!

– Anon

Hiding your true self because you’re afraid of getting shunned and excluded by your “friends and family”.

– Anon

To me La’dini means not depending on religious beliefs for comfort. Having all kinds of fun in a healthy way without involving religion.

For e.g. enjoying life dancing, laughing out loud, listening to music, watching half naked people in movies, reading erotica, doing sports wearing appropriate clothes, taking & enjoying fun pictures, making all kinds of art, mingling with opposite sex, eating whatever you want if it’s edible and not harmful.

– Anon

Someone who doesn’t fit in the religious mould that the Dhivehin want that have been shoved down our throats for years and years.

– Anon

Laadheenee means everything to me. It represents an unwavering commitment to human dignity in the face of insurmountable hatred. Laadheenee is my life’s truth, realised through gut wrenching pain, tears and existential struggle that left me empty and stunted to the core of my being. Being Laadheenee means having the strength and courage to be who you are that no amount of derogatory labels can topple. Laadheenee is life. Laadheenee is power. 

– K

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