In a country where homosexuality is punishable by death, a rare NGO is boldly defending the rights of LGBTQ people. The group, called the Guardians of Equality Movement, comprises activists who run various campaigns to demand equal rights and end the human rights violations they face. Despite the risks, these brave individuals continue to fight for equality.
In many parts of the world, being LGBTQ+ is still not socially accepted. This is especially true in the Middle East and North Africa, where same-sex relationships are criminalized and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is rampant.
The Dangers Of Being LGBTQ+ In Syria
The LGBTQ community in Syria has long been the target of abuse, violence, and persecution. They have long been marginalized and ostracized, and LGBTQ+ Syrians live in constant fear of violence and harassment, both from the government and their own families.
The Syrian government’s policies and laws toward its LGBTQ+ citizens are among the most hostile in the world. Article 520 of the penal code punishes homosexual relations with up to three years imprisonment, and other legal provisions encourage discrimination, torture, and violence against LGBTQ+ people. As a result, LGBTQ+ Syrians face daily discrimination and live in a constant state of fear, forced to hide their identities to avoid being persecuted.
Over the past decade, Syria has been embroiled in a brutal civil war that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced. Amid the Syrian conflict, members of the LGBTQ+ community have been increasingly targeted by various groups and individuals. Enforced disappearances, arrests, and sexual violence have been reported in several Syrian regions, and many LGBTQ+ people have been forced to flee the country.
The World Is Silent
In recent years, the Syrian context has only grown worse. Reports of imprisonment, torture, and executions have become more and more common, and the international media has largely remained silent on these issues.
This lack of attention from the world has made it difficult for human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, to gather reliable information about the situation of LGBTQ+ people in Syria. Many people are reluctant to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of persecution. As a result, the true scope of the LGBTQ+ community is still unknown.
This lack of reliable data is a major challenge for organizations working to assist people in danger.
Hopes And Dreams Of Syrian LGBT Activists
While there have been sporadic campaigns and initiatives aimed at improving the situation for LGBTQ+ people, these have usually faded away over time because of a lack of organization and follow-through.
However, a new organization is emerging to provide support and advocacy for the Syrian LGBTQ+ community. The Guardians of Equality Movement comprises Syrian activists and members of the LGBTQ community who are committed to fighting for equal rights and acceptance.
What Is The Guardians Of Equality Movement?
The Guardians of Equality Movement (GEM) is an organization that defines itself as one of the first non-governmental organizations to focus wholly on the Syrian LGBTQ+ community.
The organization is determined to fight for the human rights of Syrian LGBTQ+ people and create a more inclusive civil society that recognizes and values the contributions of all its members.
“GEM works towards the protection and advocacy of human rights at social and diplomatic levels for all vulnerable Syrian LGBTQIA+ regardless of political affiliations, religion, or ethnic background,” its website reads.
Their programs “support Syrian LGBTQIA+ individuals’ basic needs, provide holistic protection services including in unsafe environments, document LGBTQIA+ rights violations, and conduct research & advocacy promoting Syrian LGBTQIA+ rights.”
“I was previously arrested and violated for being a homosexual, amid the absence of any organization defending the rights of the LGBT community in Syria,” GEM’s chairperson of the board recently told Al-Monitor. “This pushed me, along with a number of activists, to establish GEM. We reach out to our target audience through [traditional] media, social media and partner organizations, or through our own members.”
He adds, “We deal with caution and care with the beneficiaries of our services and abide by numerous data protection and privacy policies to ensure the security and safety of the beneficiaries. After confirming and documenting the violation that the victims were exposed to, we offer them a financial grant to help them improve their situation and move to a safe area.”
The situation for Syrian LGBTQ+ people is terrible. They face discrimination and violence from all sides, with little hope of relief or justice. Recently, however, a new organization has emerged to defend their rights and help protect them. This organization is working hard to make a difference in the lives of Syrian LGBTQ+ people and improve their situation. We applaud their efforts and hope that they succeed in their mission and that their work has a positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Syria. The situation is dire, but with the help of this organization, there is some hope for the future. We stand with them and support their work.