The Experience of “Mr. Gay Syria” with ISIS


Three years ago they beheaded his boyfriend and sent the execution video to his parents. Since then he vowed to defend in every way the rights of the LGBT community in all countries affected by war and terrorism.

Some months ago, the competition of “Mr. Gay Syria” took place in Istanbul and the winner was a 24-year-old Syrian hairdresser called Hussein Sabat, who has settled down in Istanbul together with his family because of the civil war ravaging his country. He touched the audience with his monologue regarding the pain experienced by gay Arabs and looked more angry than scared by the jihadists of the Islamic state, although they had deprived his partner, Zakaria, of his life. He told Daily Mail: “I want to show that Syrian gays are not just bodies thrown off buildings by ISIS; we have dreams and ideas and want to live our lives.” He refers, of course, to the countless and unjustified deaths of Syrian gays by the militant group of the Islamic state.

He also experienced a homophobic attack in the streets of Istanbul by Turks and Syrians, who heard him talk on the phone with this boyfriend. He managed to escape the kidnapping, but not an inevitable beating, for which he later said: “It was terrifying. Even the freedom in Istanbul is not complete.” Sabat and the organisers are all trying to help let gay Syrian refugees grant asylum in Europe. He vows to continue fighting for LGBT rights and says: “We need to be more public about our sexuality so we can demand our rights. I can’t give advice because some people just can’t leave Syria.”

Unfortunately, most Syrians choose to live a double life because of the attacks and the prejudice that exist in their own country…