A survey published for BBC News Arabic has revealed shocking figures on social issues including homophobia and honour killings across the Middle East and North Africa.
According to this BBC report, “more than 25,000 people were interviewed for the survey across 10 countries and the Palestinian territories between late 2018 and spring 2019,” and it was found that “acceptance of homosexuality varies but is low or extremely low across the region. In Lebanon, despite having a reputation for being more socially liberal than its neighbours, the figure is 6%.”
Algerians scored the highest number of acceptance of gay relations with 26%. Morocco followed with 21% and Sudan with 17%. Tunisia tied Jordan with 7%. Palestinians harboured the most intolerance toward gay relations.
The study wrote that a paltry 5% of Palestinians from the West Bank accepted same-sex relations, the report on the BBC revealed. Palestinians under the control of Hamas in the Gaza Strip were not surveyed, but it is known that Hamas enforces deadly homophobia in the region. In 2016, Hamas executed 34-year-old Mahmoud Ishtiwi, based on allegations of gay sex and theft, shooting him three times in the chest.
Disturbingly, honour killing, in which relatives kill a family member, typically a woman, for allegedly bringing dishonour onto the family, was viewed as more acceptable than homosexuality in countries including Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories.
In a previous report on the parlous circumstances for homosexuals in the Middle East and Africa, Women for Change revealed that 71 countries criminalise homosexuality and eight will actually put a person to death for being gay. They include Gaza and Iran.
Iran publicly hanged a man in January this year based on accusations of homosexuality. Since the radical Islamic Regime came to power in 1979, Iran executed 4,000-6,000 gays and lesbians.
However, in an attempt to reform the current state of affairs, efforts are being made by one brave soul in Jordan, where Sharia law forbids homosexuality but same-sex relationships are not criminalised. Yet, it is still not permissible or acceptable to speak freely about it either.
Khalid Abdel-Hadi runs an online LGBT magazine that is blocked by the Jordanian authorities in his country, after he was outed at the age of 17 and bullied. His online magazine aims to break down the taboos around gender, and sexuality in Jordan, but there’s still a long way to go. You can read his story at Vice Magazine here.