Jordan security forces harass, intimidate LGBT activists: HRW

Jordan security forces harass, intimidate LGBT activists: HRW
Human rights watch said that authorities have been systematically targeting LGBTQ+ individuals in Jordan for their activism.
2 min read
07 December, 2023
Jordanian authorities started targeting LGBTQ+ activists in 2015, but have stepped up persecution in recent years. [Getty]

Jordan's security forces have systematically targeted LGBTQ+ individuals and cracked down on freedom of expression and assembly related to LGBTQ+ rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on 4 December.

According to the rights organisation, Jordan's intelligence directorate and police force intimidated LGBTQ+ activists with "threats of violence, arrest and prosecution."

Authorities' intimidation campaign ultimately culminated in the forced closure of several activists' organisations, as well as for activists to seek asylum abroad.

"Security forces' intimidation tactics and unlawful interference in LGBT organising have driven activism further underground and forced civil society leaders into an impossible reality: severe self censorship or fleeing Jordan," Rasha Younes, the senior LGBT rights researcher at HRW said.

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Jordan has no laws criminalising homosexuality, but also has no protections for discrimination based on sexual orientation. In general, public sentiment towards homosexuality is overwhelmingly negative, which HRW has said has given authorities license for abusive behaviour.

LGBTQ+ activists have said that Jordanian authorities' crackdown on organisations that dealt with gender and sexual orientation started in 2015, but has sharply increased in recent years.

Jordanian politicians have openly spoke against the LGBTQ+ community, accusing it of corrupting public morality in the country.

In one case, government officials targeted LGBTQ+ activists online, prompting online harassment campaigns, which included threats of violence against them.

Jordan's parliamentarians also cited the LGBTQ+ community as a danger that society needed to be protected against during their debate over whether to pass the controversial cybercrime law.

Among other articles, the law criminalises online behaviour that is “immoral,” which rights groups have warned could lead to silencing or prosecution of LGBTQ+ activists online.

HRW previously documented Jordanian authorities' online targeting of LGBTQ+ activists, including the use of entrapment, online extortion and harassment against them.

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The resulting atmosphere among the Jordanian LGBTQ+ community is one of fear, as they have no recourse for harassment from authorities or otherwise.

The crackdown on LGBTQ+ activists coincides with a greater trend of repression of civil society by Jordanian authorities.

Since 2020, the Jordanian government has shut down labour unions in the country, as well as regularly arrested protesters and activists for expressions of dissent.

In 2021, Jordan was downgraded by Freedom House from “partially free” to “not free” due to its crackdown on civil society.