Still more evidence that Islamic supremacists, not supporters of democracy and Western notions of human rights, have the upper hand in the countries that went through the vaunted “Arab Spring.”
“Will gays be ‘sacrificial lambs’ in Arab Spring?,” by Catriona Davies for CNN, May 27:
(CNN) — The uprisings bringing political change and demonstrations across much of the Arab world have given millions of people hope of greater freedom. But some gay people in the Middle East fear exactly the opposite.
Homosexuality is illegal — enforced to varying degrees — in most Arab countries.
A 2011 report by the International Lesbian and Gay Association reported that homosexuality is illegal in 76 countries worldwide and punishable by death in five, including Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Despite the risks, there are those willing to speak out and campaign for gay rights across the Middle East.
Sami Hamwi, a 35-year-old journalist from Damascus, is the Syrian editor for the website Gay Middle East, but few friends or family know his true sexual orientation.
Hamwi said: “We have been trying in Gay Middle East to start a group to be able to help LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] people in Syria. It is a work in progress.”
However, he added: “I am very scared now. I can think of a million things they can do to me if I was ever arrested or investigated.”
Hamwi wants to see reform in Syria, but doubts that any political change could significantly improve gay rights.
“Sheikhs still emphasize that death penalty is the Islamic punishment for gay men,” he said.
“A more open society regarding sexuality needs years, if not decades, of work after Syrians get the freedom they aspire to have.” […]
Dan Littauer, the London-based editor of Gay Middle East, said: “Many gay activists are very scared that the reality of their oppression could get worse.
“For example, in Egypt and Tunisia there was a lot of hope initially that there would be a more tolerant civil society. Now it seems that the impetus for change will be hijacked by conservative forces who will make the situation worse for gay people and other minorities.
“In Syria and other countries, there’s a fear that gay people could be used as sacrificial lambs.” […]
Bertho Makso, owner of a gay-friendly travel company in Beirut, said homosexuals in Lebanon had more freedom than those elsewhere in the Middle East.
He said: “As long as religion has a big impact on governments around the Arab world, it will always be this way.”…
And that impact is growing now.