This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Being Gay In The Middle East

"Legally speaking, in Syria homosexuals [can be punished] for three years in prison. Three years in prison are, to be honest, a death sentence."
Danny Ramada, gay Syrian given asylum in Canada

"In 2011, at the start of the uprising in Syria, government media launched a campaign accusing all dissidents of being homosexuals."
Subhi Nahas, gay Syrian refugee

"Nothing essential has changed [in Iran with the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani]. The structure is still the same. It's a play, a comic and ugly performance. They're relying on the naivete of people to be able to succeed."
Payam Feili, gay Iranian poet

"I am happy to accept him [Amir Ohana, openly gay lawmaker] in our ranks. Ohana has a rich past in security and is the head of the Likud Pride Group. I accept him with appreciation and pride."
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu

LGBTs in the Middle East live, and always have lived, in what the Chinese curse speaks of as 'interesting times'. Their challenge is to live unmolested by the predictable reaction that would ensue in society in general and through the state apparatus should it become noticeable that they are gay. The reaction of the Islamic State to the presence of anyone presenting in the LGBT mould is simply slightly more emphatic than elsewhere in the Middle East with the notable exception of the State of Israel.
Photo of man accused of being gay being thrown off a building by an ISIS member, in Palmyra, Syria.
Photo of a man accused of being gay being thrown off a building by an ISIS member, in Palmyra, Syria.Twitter

The Islamic State executed a 15-year-old Syrian boy whom it claimed was gay. Their mode of execution deviated slightly from what has become their horrific norm. In this boy's case they merely tossed him off a rooftop in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Sor. And this boy's fate appears not to represent an anomaly in the immediate area. The death penalty for the LGBT community in the Middle East under Sharia law is a given.

Although the Islamic State group has executed dozens of gays, their actions only duplicate the institutionalized policies of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Qatar. And not that these are the only Islamic countries practising such 'cures' for homosexuality. A 2008 British WikiLeaks dispatch contends that the Iranian regime executed "between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians" since 1979 the year of the Iranian revolution.

Arab countries that appear more civilized limiting punishment for homosexual activities to prison sentences would prefer to entirely eliminate their LGBT communities. Israel is the sole Middle East country for which the norm is acceptance and a guarantee of equality as befits a country honouring its human rights commitments as a liberal democracy.

Astonishingly and bizarrely it is also the only Middle Eastern country suffering the accusation to discredit it through a 'Pink Washing' effort in slander that falls under the broader BDS [Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment] movement launched by Western social activists in solidarity with the Palestinians who began the public relations venture to isolate Israel and which has reached such successful heights of inclusion.

Even while in Palestinian society the lives of gays are dangerously challenged.

During the reform administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Payam Feili, the gay Iranian poet was subjected to detentions, harassment and a writer's blacklist. He was tortured by Iranian security forces and managed to survive 44 days of captivity in a shipping container. In 2014 he managed to flee to Turkey and later arrived in Israel for haven.

Asked once whether gays would be tolerated in a Palestinian state, Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO ambassador to the United States responded: "Ah, this is an issue that's beyond my [authority]." Accordingly, the Aswat-Palestinian Gay Women held their LGBT film festival in Haifa, Israel; not in Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority.

Which hasn't stopped nominations from coming forward within t he United Nations for anti-gay Middle East countries to take their place in all of the UN human rights forums.

An orthodox family walks past the Shiva tent in Zion Square in downtown Jerusalem, Israel on August 7, 2015 ... photo by Monique Jaques

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