Syria has an undeniably terrible history on gay and women’s rights. Although Syria is not specifically a theocracy, Islamist law prevails. It is among the most repressive nations in the world with regard to women and gays. It is illegal to be gay or lesbian in Syria, so many gay men and lesbians are imprisoned for being queer. Laws prohibit organization of any kind of LGBT rights movement. Laws stipulate that homosexuality is a crime, even when between consenting adults. Syrian law also gives the Syrian Secret Service broad discretionary powers to detain and harass anyone deemed to be a threat to public order, morals or national security. Since the current conflict began, such detentions have become a commonplace, and with them, rapes.
But the problems for LGBT people are not new. In 2005, the Deputy Minister of Religious Endowments publicly stated HIV and AIDS was divine punishment for people who engaged in fornication and homosexuality.