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Syria cracks down on gays, at least 25 men arrested!

in SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC, 23/06/2010

Syrian authorities have raided more than four different private gay parties over five weeks between March and April, arresting more than 25 men on their last raid. Indictments have been officially submitted against them; most of the arrested guys are charged with "having a homosexual act", others are charged with dealing and/or buying and consuming illegal drugs, a few are charged with organising illegal "obscene" parties, facilitating drug dealing and consuming, and encouraging homosexual acts.

Many of the arrested men were in a gay party for the first time in their lives, while all of them are still under police custody because their families refused to bail them out or even visit them. The fact that the Syrian secret police has accused them of homosexuality is enough to put them in grave danger from their families and neighbours even if they are released without charges.

 

Private gay parties are not the Syrian authorities only target; they are also raiding cruising areas. Although no arrests have been made to GME’s knowledge, the presence of what is called in Syria "security agents", commonly known in other parts of the world as the "secret police", is frightening to gay men who are now avoiding these areas. Interestingly, police men do not approach all men in cruising areas claiming that they only try to investigate "suspicious men"; a term that refers to "gay men".

 

GME is following the case against the 25 men. A senior officer handling the police campaign against the gay men in Syria said "Syrian authorities' major interest is the safety of people, we targeted those parties only because of the increasing rate of drug use, while our presence in those parks and squares is because of the increasing rate of robberies." GME is very concerned about the welfare of the 25 men. We call on the Syrian government to free the 25 men and drop all charges against them and secure their safety, in line with the words of the officer, we believe that “the safety of people”, including gay ones, are paramount. We urge Syria to repeal the antiquated Article 520 of the penal code of 1949, and thus resolve the problem of a need for secret parties and having gays and lesbians safety compromised.

 

GME contacted the Syrian Embassy in London and Washington regarding this matter. However up to the hour of going to press with the news item we have not received any comment or response from either of the two embassies.

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