Do More for LGBT Equality in Middle East

Benjamin Weinthal, Jewish fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote an article on how to fight homophobia in the Middle East

Benny_LargeThe United States and Canada need to do more “to confront lethal homophobia and persecution in the Arab world and Iran,” Benjamin Weinthal, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in a commentary for Canada’s National Post on Thursday.

Weinthal advocated a number of steps that North American countries could take to encourage greater LGBT tolerance in the Middle East: funding NGOs that fight anti-gay policies in Muslim-majority countries, imposing sanctions “on individuals and regimes involved in anti-LGBT persecution,” and working to prevent Middle Eastern countries with homophobic policies from serving in leadership positions in UN human rights organizations.

Weinthal drew a contrast between the lives of gay people in Muslim-majority countries and in Israel. He noted that Payyam Feili, a gay poet from Iran, was welcomed in Israel after being tortured during the rule of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is widely perceived to be a moderate. Feili predicted in 2013 that rights would not improve under Rouhani. “Nothing essential has changed,” he said at the time. “The structure is still the same. It’s a play, a comic and ugly performance. They’re relying on the naïveté of people to be able to succeed.”

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