Writing for PinkNews.co.uk, Tara Hewitt says the plight of Syria’s LGBT community should not be forgotten amid dreadful scenes of human rights abuses in a conflict watched by the rest of the world.
When we see the shocking images of children being burnt in attacks on a school and the horrendous footage of the aftermath of a chemical attack, life in Syria right now could be described as the hell the world has forgotten.
But life in Syria is not the same for everyone many still live the life of privilege protected by the current government regime as supporters of President Assad and we have seen on the news people out in the cafes and leisure sites in Damascus enjoying life, while war seems to rage across their country. Switching to the rebels life is tough with the threat of targeted civilian attacks a constant worry and the continuation of decades of oppression from their own government, but united by the determination for a better future one free of the tyrant as they see him President Assad and his administration they have hope of a future.
For one group however be it living under the veil of the Assad government or amongst the now growing factional rebel groups they don’t have a silver lining to hang their hopes on and they are the hidden LGBT population hidden beneath the terror but living with the realisation that whoever wins their hope of a Syria that embraces their gay citizens is one that is so far from the table no one around the world is considering let alone talking about their future.
Last year PinkNews reported the story by Syrian Newspaper Baladna that described the growth of homosexuality as almost an infection, the tone and prejudice apparent that even with the chaos of a war torn nation, which may allow people to hide their identity under the bigger shadows that now exist, gay people are not facing a future of freedom and visibility but merely the continuation of a nation in a part of the world where religious zealously trumps sexual liberty.
When we think to the holocaust in Nazi Germany the horrendous suffering of the Jewish community is what stands out, but we all know the pain and torment homosexual men and women faced at the hands of a brutal dictator and his regime. Now come back to present day Syria, put yourself in the shoes of a gay Syrian man or women not able to be yourself, maybe seeing your family murdered, and you are faced with supporting a government that oppresses you or a freedom movement that wants to oppress you some more or the religious Jihadists who believe you deserve to be stoned to death, what do you do?
“President Putin is as close a friend to the LGBT community as he is to his sense of modesty, being Syria’s biggest ally makes it clear that there is little hope of a change of direction coming from President Assad’s Government following any pressure put on them by the Kremlin.
This is why us in the West the UK, USA and Europe where we have been a leader of the development of human rights, the freedom of expression of sexuality and personal liberty , we need to be putting LGBT rights firmly at the table of any diplomatic Agenda. This pressure needs to be brought to bare on President Assad, but more importantly for Syria’s future the factional Rebels where we should focus on supporting those more secular factions more willing to embrace the global top level values of human rights and liberty over their more zealously religious counterparts. Of course the priority in Syria has to be the end to the genocide that has mushroomed over the last 2 years but even if the outcomes are not just round the corner and the journey may be long letting LGBT citizens in Syria Know they haven’t been forgotten and that there is hope for the future is a cause worth working for.