Homophobia remains prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Most countries in these regions do not recognize the rights of the LGBT community, and homosexual acts are criminalized. LGBT people in Syria, in particular, face daily discrimination and violations amid policies and legal provisions that incite hatred and violence against anyone who is different and not meeting the prevailing social standards and expectations. Article 520 of the Syrian Penal Code criminalizes homosexuality and is used to sanction LGBT people with a prison term of up to three years.
In this context, Hazem (a pseudonym), a gay man who was displaced from Rif Dimashq to northwest Syria, told Al-Monitor, “Someone ratted me out to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and I was arrested and faced the most severe forms of torture and humiliation for eight months. When I was released by a general amnesty, I moved to areas under the control of the [opposition-affiliated] Syrian National Army for fear of being arrested again.”