JACKSONVILLE, Alabama — Same-sex marriage has garnered commendation in the United States and in Ireland; but for those residing in the Middle East, individuals desiring to spend the rest of their lives with a significant other of the same sex may continue to face resistance unless remarkable change occurs.
In early Middle Eastern history, same-sex relations were not always considered taboo. In fact, according to a 2014 BBC report, homosexual relationships were often viewed as the “norm” in traditional society throughout the 19th and 20th century.
However, Colonialism ushered in Western ideals that enforced anti-gay laws and placed brutal capital punishments against those who “dared” to defy them. Moreover, the progression of conservative religious attitudes made things more drastic.
Homosexuality, viewed in Middle Eastern standards as the equivalence of fornication, or affair in marriage, results in brutal forms of punishments by law. Capital punishments include stoning, lynching, lashing and yearly imprisonment.
In 2005, photographs of two Iranian teenagers lynched due to accusations of homosexual relations were released online. The explicit content met controversial reception when conflicting information indicated that the pair were convicted of raping a 13-year-old minor; however, other unnamed sources denounced the report as a government cover up and solidified that the teens were in a forbidden consensual relationship that defied Iran’s anti-gay laws.
The story, however, would be a hindered news item within mainstream news outlets like those in the U.S., where the issue of homophobia at the time was somewhat marginal. Moreover, the condition of the story’s execution background never met definite accuracy.
Those encouraging or engaging in homosexual activity of any kind are immediately subject to not only imprisonment, but namely banishment, whippings and lashings.
But it is not only the extremes the tortured endure in the aforementioned consequences. Following death upon execution, bodies of the executed are improperly buried. This is largely upheld in belief that gays “deviated from Islamic faith,” therefore as result must “be tossed to the wayside.”
Aside from execution techniques, some Middle Eastern powers have upheld the theory that in order to “cure homosexuality,” gay-identifiers are forced to be subject to grizzly sex-change operations.
The torment and anguish sustained from such punishments have made it unimaginably difficult for those identifying as gay to live, resulting in taking on concealed identities for sake of survival.
Over time, the frustrating way of living has seen varied media coverage across different regions, including in the U.S. where works like HBO’s “Vice,” the New York-screened documentary “Oriented,” international piece “A Jihad for Love” and “Circumstance” shine light on the anti-gay issue.
Varied media support follows some assistance with the known fact that Tel Aviv exists as the central gay cornerstone for those in the Middle East desiring to live a moderate life. However, the access to the dream location is left heart-wrenchingly impossible for hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, due to financial restraint.
According to James Longman’s BBC report, in unearthing gay crises within the Middle East, a gateway to Tel Aviv is often marked with a lofty price and severe consequences, especially if linked to family ties.
Longman interviewed a Middle Eastern native who disclosed his sexuality only to friends. He knew that if word got out to his family, he would lose luxurious financial privileges and never see Tel Aviv again.
The individual’s story does not stretch far from the truth, as many live similar paths and moreover lack the essential economic benefits that could propel them to a better-suited living condition.
But it is not only economic restraints that are tearing those down—the frightening rates of ISIS activities with accused gays being thrown off high-elevated buildings is more than enough for those to desperately seek asylum elsewhere.
In 2014, the “Daily Mail” reported that ISIS had thrown a man convicted of “being gay” off the roof of a high-elevated building while gagging and pummeling three other men alleged of rape.
Anti-gay occurrences such as these are beginning to grow alarmingly frightening as countless gay men and women who have no way out are only left to suffer.
The lack of proper news reporting to expose such issues is among the many factors contributing to the still-ongoing issue.
Yet optimism, as of recent moments, sees focus on the secure establishments of gay centers in selected territories that service support to those friendless or lacking adequate socioeconomic needs.
Documented in James Longman’s report, gay individuals who lack a support network are easily prone to self-torture and hopelessness. With the aid of gay centers serving as a slither of hope, there is no predicament if the centers will greatly propel Middle Eastern powers to redefine gay laws; but for now, serve as a benefiting comfort zone for those in need.
With an additional note of poverty still accounting as a vast problem within Middle Eastern regions, where war is still rapid, deep hope is still surging with LGBT communities that a road of improvement will be paved in time. However, only the increased awareness, socioeconomic improvements, among other beneficiary tactics can likely kick-start this possibility.
– Jeff Varner