Despite legality, Jordan's LGBT communities are still facing backlash

Published May 28th, 2015 - 04:29 GMT
Despite it being legal in Jordan, homosexuality is still harshly condemned by the country's deeply conservative society. (AFP/File)
Despite it being legal in Jordan, homosexuality is still harshly condemned by the country's deeply conservative society. (AFP/File)

Earlier this month was International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, and unsurprisingly in MENA, there's a lot going wrong.

But as we reported on the day, there's also a few things going right  — one of them is Jordan-based MyKali Mag, one of the oldest gay magazines in the Middle East. They organized an event dubbed Squeezing Identity Out of the Box alongside an advocacy group in Amman to address the problems faced by gay and trans* communities in the Kingdom.

But that's facing growing backlash now in Jordan, most notably after Arabic media said US Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells was in attendance.

Jordanian daily Al Ghad reported Thursday that Jordanian lawyer Tariq Abu al-Ragheb had filed a complaint against Wells, claiming her attendance was "a breach of public order and the constitution, by setting up a meeting to demand the rights of gays and homosexuals in the presence of US Ambassador to Jordan."

Wells’ office declined to comment, but MyKali’s website clarified that while personnel from the US and several other embassies attended, it was neither sponsored nor organized by the US ambassador’s office.

Homosexuality is not criminalized in Jordan — one of the only countries in the region where this is true, along with Bahrain, Iraq and Israel.

But Jordan's deeply conservative society means legality is often not the issue for LGBT communities. Individuals  face discrimination in housing, education and employment, according to a 2013 Human Rights report, while events like last week’s still face widespread backlash.

 

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