Gay refugee: I fled execution under ISIS… and now I try to help others like me
A gay Syrian man has opened up about fleeing from persecution, and the terrorist group known as Daesh (ISIS).
The terrorist group known as Daesh/Islamic State has publicly executed dozens of gay men across Iraq and Syria, with local LGBT communities often forced to flee for their lives.
Amid worsening conditions in war-torn Syria, a number of countries including the UK have committed to taking LGBT Syrians through resettlement schemes – though there are fears these routes are not being fully utilised.
Subhi Nahas, an openly gay refugee who fled from persecution, opened up about his orderal in a submission to a UK Parliamentary inquiry.
Mr Nahas fled when the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front seized power – but now says if he returns home he would be targeted by ISIS.
Writing to the International Development Committee’s Syrian Refugee Crisis inquiry, he explained: “My name is Subhi Nahas. I am from Idlib, Syria, a small city of one and a half million residents north of Damascus.
“I am a refugee and I am gay. In 2011, at the start of the uprising in Syria, government media launched a campaign accusing all dissidents of being homosexuals.
“Soon after, authorities waged systematic raids on locales where gay people met. Many were arrested and tortured. Some were never heard from again.”
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He added: “The arrests and executions continued unnoticed by the outside world. Then in 2014, after ISIL took over, it stepped up the violent attacks on suspected LGBTI people, publishing images of their exploits.
“At the executions, hundreds of townspeople, including children, cheered jubilantly as at a wedding. If a victim did not die after being hurled off a building, the townspeople stoned him to death. This was to be my fate too.
“Two months later, I seized the chance to escape to Lebanon, where I stayed for six months. I then moved to Hatay, Turkey, where I worked as an interpreter for other Syrians.
“As a refugee and a gay man, I am proud to be assisting LGBTI and other vulnerable refugees.”
Mr Nahas now seeks to speak up for others like him through ORAM – which advocates for LGBT refugees and migrants. He spokebefore the United Nations Security Council last year, as well as seeking to influence governments across the world.
Speaking previously, he explained: “[ISIS] say that they are protecting the community from these ‘perverts’, from people who will destroy society’s morality.
“They can’t offer water or services, but they can offer that. And it seems like it’s working.
“We’ve seen from videos that if a gay person doesn’t die from the fall off a building, the people watching stone him to death. ISIS is being this brutal, this public, to gain support.”