At home and abroad, LGBT Syrians fight to have their voices heard

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10/11/2020

AMMAN/BEIRUT — In Damascus, Amira al-Tabbaa lived her life in murmurs. Officially, homosexuality and offenses against “public decency” are illegal in Syria. That is why when Amira met with friends in ‘gay-friendly’ cafes they spoke “only in whispers.” The 36-year-old Syrian dates her LGBT activism back to 2004 when she, along with other queer people, would help “gays or lesbians who were kicked out of their work or their home,” or those who had been beaten or sent to prison. In 2008, Damascus felt a bit more open to Amira. “You could raise your voice a little bit, but still it was not safe to go out in a big LGBT group or have a party in an LGBT place,” she told Syria Direct. Amira was 24 when she came out to her family. It had taken her years to discover why she was not interested in having a boyfriend and why she always liked the female characters in the movies. “For years I thought, am I coming out of space in this country? I felt like I was the only person like this.” In 2000, she came across the LGBT acronym for the first time while surfing the internet, finally finding the acceptance she could not find at home.

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