In Syria, 'anti-regime gay people' being 'hunted'

Published: August 10, 2011

It has been very dangerous to form any kind of gathering in Syria since the spark of the protests last March. Gay Syrians had avoided cruising and gathering for a few weeks before they started to become more aware of the best places and times for such actions.

Until recently, most LGBT people tried to avoid declaring their political opinions until the protests started to become closer to their areas. They became more aware of the facts, and started to express their opinions. Nevertheless, pro-regime LGBT people, as few as they are, have always expressed their opinions. Of course, they have also been trying to force them upon others.

One of Assad’s relatives is a known gay in Damascus. Most people tried to avoid him at the start of the protests, while some tried to become friends with him. Recently, his new found friends have been threatening anti-regime gay people to expose them to authorities and deliver their names to the secret police.

They have been using online gay dating sites to contact people and threaten them. Some are only trying to blackmail others into having sex with them. Others are making lists of anti-regime people and publishing their handles on those sites.

It is known that extremists used gay sites – mainly ManJam – in Iraq to hunt gay Iraqis, torture them, and kill them. Worries arise now that Syrians might use the same methods to help the regime to hunt gays who oppose it.

ManJam is one of the easiest sites to access and join. Their requirements are minimal, and many users have multiple profiles there. With the difficulties in internet access in Syria at this time, tracking those profiles is nearly impossible. However, when we come across a profile listing anti-regime profiles, we try to report it. Unfortunately, ManJam webmasters don’t do anything about it.

I have reported three profiles listing and threatening others, but they still exist and their lists are expanding. I received a message today from a friend telling me about the troubles he had to face after those people listed him on one of their profiles.

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