Four newly arrived LGBT Syrian refugees will be able to openly express their sexual identity when they join the Pride celebrations in central London on Saturday.
The first thing desperate refugees do when they reach the host country is join in with a massive public jamboree?
They arrived in London on Thursday after waiting for more than two years to be airlifted to safety. Their situation was resolved after the Guardian highlighted the plight of 15 LGBT Syrian refugees stranded in Turkey this year. Others in the group were expected to follow soon.
Are gays persecuted in Syria? It’s an honest question: parts of the country are dominated by religious nutjobs now, but Damascus is still under the control of the Assad government and I don’t think he’s got much interest in hounding gays. His regime was pretty brutal to anyone who opposed him, but it was broadly secular and while I can’t imagine it was as accepting as Brighton, I’m not sure gays were put to the sword as a matter of course. Besides, these lot were in Turkey. Can you be gay in Turkey? Yes, you can, which is why the article must resort to woolly guff like this:
While some Syrian refugees who flee to Turkey are relatively safe, there were concerns over the safety of this group because of homophobic attitudes in the country. Same-sex relationships are legal but negative attitudes prevail and some refugees have reported being pelted by rocks, followed in the street and attacked if people suspect they were not heterosexual.
So they’ve been granted refugee status on the basis that, although homosexuality is legal where they are, “negative attitudes prevail”? Seriously? And have these individuals been pelted with rocks for being gay? Or are they claiming refugee status based on stories of what happened to other people?
Members of the Syrian group were forced to conceal their sexual identity and in some cases to live in hiding. Some received death threats because of their sexuality.
I’m wondering what any of this has got to do with Britain. And how much work is the word “some” doing in this case?
The refugees said they were at risk not only from the population at large but also from their own families, who in some cases did not know about their sexual identity.
His family doesn’t know he’s gay, but he needs asylum in Britain in case they find out.
Toufique Hossain and Sheroy Zaq, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, who launched the legal action, said: “These men have been forced to conceal an enormous part of their identity, not just in their country of origin but also in Turkey. The detriment they suffered as a result of their sexuality in Turkey simply could not go on any longer; we had to ensure that their resettlement was expedited through legal channels. We are elated that they will at last be able to be open about their sexuality in all walks of life, just in time for Pride.”
Well, I can at least understand why they’re up for a party. I would be too if I’d just pulled off a stunt like that. These people are not refugees in any meaningful sense of the word, and all it’s doing is hardening attitudes to people who face genuine, life threatening persecution. And isn’t it interesting to contrast the efforts expended to grant these individuals asylum with the British government’s decision to refuse it to Asia Bibi.