For gay Syrians, jihadist threat adds new fear

Syria FlagOn Dec 23, 2014 Yahoo News reported: Since jihadists from the Islamic State group seized control of two northeastern Syrian provinces, Jad has lost all contact with friends there from the country’s tight-knit gay community.

The 32-year-old, part of a community that has long suffered from persecution in socially conservative Syria, fears the worst.

“I don’t have any news from them, their Facebook pages have been closed down,” Jad said, sharing drinks with friends at a traditional cafe in an old neighbourhood of Damascus.

“Are they still alive? Have they managed to flee?” he wondered. “I don’t know, and that’s frightening.”

His concern has only grown as the jihadists have released images showing attacks on homosexuals, including photographs this month of a man being thrown off a building and stoned.

“We are scared. If the extremists take over, I know what fate I will suffer. I will be killed for sure,” Jad said.

Like in much of the Middle East, life in Syria has never been easy for homosexuals.

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Jihadists have released images showing attacks on homosexuals, sparking fear in the Syrian gay commu …

Rejected by families and friends and watched by the security services, gay people can face up to three years in prison for acts declared “unnatural” in the Syrian criminal code.

As Syria’s civil war has ramped up, some in the gay community have paradoxically felt less threatened.

“Since the war started, the security forces have bothered us much less, and there are fewer raids. They have other fish to fry,” Jad said.

“Even society pays less attention to us,” he added, openly wearing a rainbow-coloured bracelet.

But many are not letting their guard down, recalling the horrific treatment gay people have suffered at the hands of the authorities.

– ‘Secret gay life’ –

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A man wearing a bracelet bearing the colours of the rainbow flag, used to symbolise gay pride, drink …

Human Rights Watch said earlier this year that the climate of violence in Syria had made life even harder for some gay people.

Held by the army, two gay men were for 10 days forced to strip and have sex with each other in front of interrogators, HRW said.

Other gay men were reported to have been threatened with death by their own families.

Continued at For gay Syrians, jihadist threat adds new fear

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