This section addressed the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex individuals in Syria.
[Main COI reference: Targeting, 13]
The Syrian legislation makes same-sex activities punishable by law, as stipulated in the Penal Code of 1949 in Book Two under ‘morality and public morals’. Article 520 states: ‘any sexual intercourse against the order of nature can be punished with up to three years of imprisonment’. Article 517 of the Penal Code states that also violations of public decency as defined under Article 208 of the Syrian Penal Code are punishable with imprisonment from three months to three years. The legal status of same-sex activity between women is unclear.
Recent reliable information on the enforcement of laws regarding LGBTI persons is available but limited. It is noted that there were no reports of prosecutions of same-sexual conduct in 2018. However, in previous years police used legal charges to prosecute LGBTI persons, for example based on drug abuse or abusing social values. Syrian authorities and others can also use one’s sexual orientation to blackmail, harass, and eventually abuse members of the LGBTI-community.
In 2018, it was reported that the GoS allowed an intersex person to register a new gender status on official documents.
Anti-discrimination laws have not been established and hence there is no legal protection of LGBTI people in Syria.
Sources indicate that targeting of LGBTI individuals by authorities took place before the civil war and ensued during the conflict. With regard to the latter, documented serious human rights violations against LGBTI individuals at the hands of GoS security forces and non-State armed groups included cases of summary execution, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as harassment, discrimination and exploitation. Information on the frequency of such incidents is not available. It is also reported that ISIL and HTS regularly detained, tortured and killed LGBTI individuals in the territories they controlled, abductions of persons assumed or perceived as gay have also been documented.
Incidents also include threats, harassment and violence against transgender persons at the hands of family members, LGBTI individuals being victims of ‘honour’ killings and homosexual men and women being forced into heterosexual marriages.
Denial of equal opportunities to education and employment, as well as societal stigmatisation were also mentioned as problems for LGBTI individuals. Generally, the societal attitude towards LGBTI individuals is reported to be dismissive.
The acts to which (perceived) LGBTI individuals could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. abduction, torture, arbitrary detention, (sexual) violence, killing).
For individuals under this profile, well-founded fear of persecution would in general be substantiated.
It has to be noted that an applicant cannot be expected to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity to avoid persecution.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Available information indicates that the persecution of this profile is for reasons of membership of a particular social group based on a shared characteristic which is so fundamental to their identity that they should not be forced to renounce it; and based on a distinct identity of LGBTI persons in Syria, because they are perceived as being different by the surrounding society.