Maha was a final-year trainee at a police academy in Basra, southeast Iraq, when her phone went missing. It was summer 2011. Only 17, she was nervous about telling her parents, though not especially worried. Only when she was summoned to the dean’s office three days later did she realize she was in danger. A dozen or so sheets of white paper were neatly arranged on the dean’s desk. One by one, he turned them over to reveal print-outs of intimate photos taken from Maha’s phone. In some she was naked, nestled in the arms of a man whose face remains just out of shot. In others, she wears makeup stolen from her mother’s dresser. Female sexuality remains tightly surveilled in much of Iraq, but Maha’s predicament was altogether more complicated: a transgender woman, Maha was still a man in the eyes of her family and the state.
The constitution provides for equal rights and equal opportunity for all citizens and prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status. The constitution does not address sexual orientation or gender identity. The government did not enforce the law effectively or make any serious attempt to... Expand
The constitution provides for equal rights and equal opportunity for all citizens and prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status. The constitution does not address sexual orientation or gender identity. The government did not enforce the law effectively or make any serious attempt to do so. Women faced widespread violence, discrimination, and significant restrictions on their rights. ISIL imposed severe restrictions on women’s personal conduct, attire, and freedom of movement in the territory it controlled.
The penal code prohibits homosexual relations, defined as “carnal relations against the order of nature,” and provides for at least three years’ imprisonment. Specifically, the law criminalizes any sexual act that is “contrary to nature.” In previous years police used this charge to prosecute lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. There were no reports of prosecutions under the law during the year; however, reports indicated the government arrested dozens of gay men and lesbians over the past several years on charges such as abusing social values; selling, buying, or consuming illegal drugs; and organizing and promoting “obscene” parties.
Although there were no known domestic NGOs focused on LGBT matters, there were several online networking communities, including an online LGBT-oriented magazine. Human rights activists reported there was overt societal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all aspects of society. There were also reports of extremist groups threatening LGBT activists.
Local media reported numerous instances in which security forces used accusations of homosexuality as a pretext to detain, arrest, and torture civilians. The frequency of such instances was difficult to determine since police rarely reported their rationale for arrests. Furthermore, social stigma prevented many victims of such abuse from coming forward, even when accusations were false.
Source: U.S. Department of State's  Human Rights ReportContract
Anas Qartoumeh says he wants Canada to keep fighting for human rights abroad. The Grand Marshal of the 2018 Kelowna Pride March is proud to lead the parade, but more important, he's just proud he can be himself. Anas Qartoumeh is a gay Syrian refugee who fled his country in 2015 to escape the civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions. Qartoumeh also wanted to flee Syria's ultra-conservative culture, which forced him to keep his homosexuality a secret. He now lives in Kelowna and for the first time, he told Daybreak South host Chris Walker, "I am me now." "It's a very different feeling. It took a long time for me to be out, gay," Qartoumeh, 34, said.
The US Department of State criticised, in its annual report on global human rights in 2017, the situation of human rights in a number of countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The report, released on Friday, mentioned details and stories of abusing prisoners, detaining journalists, and child labour. It also highlighted violations against women, LGBT persons, aboriginals, and religious minorities. The first such report released during the presidency of Donald Trump accused the governments of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Syria of violating human rights and being “forces of instability.”
Northern Syria’s Kurds are establishing direct democracy and a gender revolution. Why are we arming jihadist-linked Turkey? “It’s like Spain in 1936.” Those are the words of Alexander Norton, a charismatic 31-year-old railway worker from east London, as Turkish forces besiege the Kurdish city of Afrin. Following in the tradition of Britain’s courageous International Brigades eight decades earlier, Norton has risked his life to fight Isis alongside Kurdish freedom fighters in Kurdish Syria. As you read this, a secular democracy that celebrates women’s rights is under attack, including by Turkish-aligned troops who have sung al-Qaida songs and threatened to cut off the heads of their “atheist” victims. When any woman says her husband forbids her from attending meetings, a group of women will instead descend on their home, leaving him with little choice. “This is a huge social revolution,” says Paula Lamont, the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign’s co-chair. “Attitudes to gay rights and women’s rights have been totally changed in a matter of years.”
Nabil Mousa’s first solo art exhibition was a joyous occasion, but it still brought tears to his eyes when he introduced his husband to the audience. Mr. Mousa was born in Syria and immigrated to the United States with his conservative Christian parents. In 2000, when he came out, they soon cut off contact and disowned him. Now, he was melding his two identities — gay and Arab — in a show of paintings here. And what was more surprising was where his work was being displayed: the Arab American National Museum, which was focusing for the first time on a gay artist’s exploration of discrimination.
From arrests to honour killings to cold-blooded murders, when Mahmoud Hassino saw the rights of Syria's LGBTI community trampled in the brutal civil war, he wanted to find a way to tell the world. In the midst of war, Hassino set out to find Syria's "Mr Gay" to send to an international beauty pageant. Hassino, a Syrian journalist and gay rights campaigner, saw LGBTI people targeted by all sides in Syria's six-year-old conflict. And women disproportionately bore the brunt of the violence. "With the war, gender-based violence reached a peak," said Hassino, 42. "Women suffered and the LGBT community as well. Any kind of gender expression is not possible during any war."
When Mahmoud Hassino, an openly gay Syrian activist, arrived in Istanbul over a year ago, he had a plan. Hassino, a refugee living in Germany since 2014, wanted to hold up a mirror to LGBT Syrians like him. So he flew to Turkey, where LGBT Syrians make up a small percentage of the millions who have sought refuge there. Hassino organized a beauty pageant for gay Syrians in Istanbul, in the hopes that the winner could represent their home country at the upcoming Mr. Gay World competition in Malta.
Samar - not his real name - has two Facebook profiles. On one, he is a proud gay man starting his life again in the UK after fleeing Syria following death threats. He posts selfies wearing a rainbow scarf and attending gay pride marches. On the other he keeps in touch with his worried mother, who asks when he will marry a nice Arabic girl.
Homosexual sex is still technically illegal in Lebanon due to an article that prohibits sex against the “laws of nature”. This has been used to prosecute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, but does a rare ruling in a recent case offer a new future for the country’s community? Benjamin Zand finds out for BBC Pop Up.
The images are still fresh in our minds. The same weekend the United States was celebrating the positive SCOTUS ruling on Marriage Equality, the world was seeing videos and pictures Turkish Pride being canceled using water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas, and riot police. This conservative and religious response, along with LGBT Syrian refugees pouring into Turkey, were the catalysts that lead to the creation of Mr Gay Syria.
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