Millions of people have fled Syria due to the civil war, the rise of the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate and the brutality of the Assad regime, desperate to escape regime barrel bombs, Islamic State sadism and persecution by other intolerant, hardline groups. And for Syria’s LGBT citizens, the threat of violence within ISIS-controlled regions is even greater.
Under ISIS rule, even those simply suspected of being gay have been publicly tortured and executed. The Islamic State’s penal code for those accused of engaging in sodomy dictates death is the penalty “for both the receiver and the giver,” Vocativ deep web analysts have found.
Even before the horrors of the Islamic State’s persecution of gays became a daily reality, Syrians were largely intolerant of any variation on “traditional” sexuality. In addition to being abused at home, Louay says he faced dangers on the street in his home city.
“I grew up with this curly blond hair and green eyes … I was the cutie in my family,” he says. By the time he was a teenager, when he could no longer conceal his sexual orientation, his looks and demeanor made him the subject of ridicule and beatings. He was also accused of being a “prostitute,” he says. “My life was in danger.” Read more via Vocativ