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How Syrian Police Can Keep Gays Locked Up: Threatening Families Who Want to Bail Them Out

Over five weeks between March and April, Syrian police and Secret Service agents have raided gay parties and cruising areas arresting more than 25 men for “having a homosexual act”, “dealing, buying or consuming illegal drugs”, “organising illegal ‘obscene’ parties”, “facilitating drug dealing and consuming”, and “encouraging homosexual acts.” Basically, all things that would shut down the average American gay bar.

A senior Syrian police officer handling the anti-gay campaign says, “Syrian authorities’ major interest is the safety of people, we targeted those parties only because of the increasing rate of drug use, while our presence in those parks and squares is because of the increasing rate of robberies.”

Call me crazy, but gay men trying to avoid the police don’t spend their time in public robbing people and pushing drugs. So the police line may sound nice, but it’s also patently false. When you’re raiding private parties and then charging men with “encouraging homosexual acts,” that’s not law enforcement, it’s institutionalized homophobia and human rights violations.

But what’s more heartbreaking is that many of these men are still in police custody (see: prison) because their families refuse to visit — or bail them out. At first glance it may sound like the Muslim country’s filled with homophobic conservative families, but their refusal to get involved may hint at a more insidious part of Syrian life.

Members of Syria’s Secret Service regularly blackmail, harass, and use members of the LGBT community for their own political means. If someone’s a known homosexual, police can monitor your activity and threaten you with imprisonment whenever they like. And if your family accepts you and gives you any means whatsoever to express your sexuality — a bed to sleep with men, internet access to get gay news, or a space to call gay friends — they’re basically harboring and aiding a criminal, leaving them susceptible to police charges and manipulation as well. No wonder families would rather not get involved.

A gay arrest in Syria is a scarlet letter. These men will likely remain ostracized by their communities, unable to get jobs, and open to arrest for the rest of their lives. Embracing them only leaves their family members open to the same fate. The state’s use of families as a tool against homosexuality is the cruelest punishment of all.

By:           Daniel Villarreal
On:           Jun 24, 2010
Tagged: , , , , ,

  • 4 Comments
    • pawsum
      pawsum

      Reading things like this helps me keep things in perspective. The situation for gays and lesbians in America is certainly not perfect; far from it, in fact. But at least we don’t have to deal with this. Although, if we don’t get a handle on this right-wing Christian fascist movement sweeping the nation, this may very well be our future – or worse.

      Jun 24, 2010 at 6:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gay Middle East Editor
      Gay Middle East Editor

      We are very concerned with what happened in the last few weeks and the arrest of the 25 gay men. As you succinctly stated, even if they are released unharmed (as torture is not uncommon) they face a very dangerous situation.

      We are also said to announce that we have received word from several gay guys in Syria, that last and yesterday night further arrests of gay guys occurred in Syria.

      We urge all readers to write to the Syrian Embassy or Consulate near you and point out the merits of a more liberal approach as has been done by Syria’s neighbours, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Please write and help these guys, we might save their lives, and please tell your friends to do the same. Thank you so much in advance.

      Gay Middle East . COM

      Jun 24, 2010 at 10:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      We urge all readers to write to the Syrian Embassy or Consulate near you and point out the merits of a more liberal approach as has been done by Syria’s neighbours, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Please write and help these guys, we might save their lives, and please tell your friends to do the same. Thank you so much in advance.
      __________________________

      Funny that he left out the neighbor of Syria that has the most liberal gay rights laws in the area.

      Jun 25, 2010 at 10:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Totakikay
      Totakikay

      When Radical Islam takes over America, gays and lesbians will also face unlawful persecution.

      This is the reason why I strongly support ISRAEL and the United States.

      Jun 26, 2010 at 9:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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