On Jan 17, 2015 Global News reported: TORONTO – If it weren’t for the castration threats, Rasheed might have believed Syrian police were only hounding him for his political views.
He and his friends had begun receiving unwelcome attention from cops in his hometown of Damascus as early as 2012, and they were told that perceived opposition to Syria’s extremist government was the reason for the increasingly tense encounters.
But Rasheed, who requested not to have his full name used for this story because he hasn’t told his family about his sexuality, believes the real motive came to the fore the day he and a few fellow gay men were carted off to a local jail.
The police who blindfolded him and beat him with electrical cables made revealing comments after seizing his cell phone containing pictures and videos that made his sexual preferences plain.
Amid derogatory taunts and homophobic slurs, he said the officers threatened him with much worse.
“‘We’re going to castrate you…We’re going to rape you. You’ll never see this world again,”‘ Rasheed said they told him.
Such attitudes – the norm in his homeland, says the 32-year-old – were what allowed Rasheed to successfully claim refugee status in Canada and begin a new life.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has named single men identifying as gay, bisexual or transgender as among those who are most vulnerable in Syria and in need of urgent relocation to another country.
Canada is following the commissioner’s guidelines in identifying 25,000 refugees for government-assisted resettlement in the next few months, and has included gay men among priority candidates. They join complete families, women at risk and members of sexual minorities.