LGBT Voices from Middle East & North Africa: Daily Brief

Plus: Prosecute Assad; Bill in France could undermine rights of asylum seekers; Members of European Parliament act to end child marriage; Why an Iranian rights violator is not in prison; Protesters beaten, journalists detained in Iraq's Kurdistan region; North Korean slaves in Europe.


  1. The United States has only accepted 11 Syrian refugees so far in 2018. It is a shockingly low number, considering President Trump's public outrage over Syrian President Assad's suspected chemical weapons attacks on his own people, which resulted in the US and allies ordering missile strikes against Syria. Trump should offer greater assistance and protection to those civilians attempting to flee the horrors of Syria.
  2. When a Chinese social media site announced it would start blocking LGBT-related content in an effort to conform to President Jinping's strict cybersecurity laws, tens of thousands of people across China's social space protested the site's caving to the government's crackdown on free expression. And there was rare good news: the protests worked.
  3. From earlier today: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists from Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and North Africa are defying state-sponsored repression and social stigma, Human Rights Watch and the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality said in a video series issued today, accompanied by a new HRW report.
  4. The prospect of prosecution of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and other people responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity is back on the table.
  5. Good news from Trinidad and Tobago, where the High Court of Justice has ruled that the country’s laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy between consenting adults are unconstitutional. This is a resounding win for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in the country and in particular for Jason Jones, the claimant in the case.
  6. A bill on immigration and asylum could jeopardize access to protection in France, and should be revised. The French National Assembly will examine the bill this week.
  7. The European Union could do more to help end child marriage, and members of the European Parliament are working for it to do just that. Last week the parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee adopted an opinion calling for the EU’s diplomatic arm to develop a clear strategy and dedicate funds to eradicating child and forced marriage by 2030.
  8. It seems that an infamous Iranian prosecutor – someone sentenced to two years in prison for complicity in the death of one person arrested during Iran’s 2009 anti-government protests – has vanished before he could even be arrested.
  9. Security forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq have detained at least 84 protesters and four journalists in late March. Many of the detentions appeared to be arbitrary. Twelve witnesses said security forces beat many as they attempted to detain them during demonstrations in the cities of Akre, Dohuk, and Erbil.