Report: Digital Threats and Opportunities For LGBT Activists in Jordan

This report explores online opportunities and challenges for LGBT people in Jordan, and how digital and traditional media coverage affects the LGBT Arab identity (Link: Full PDF report available bottom page).

By Khalid Abdel-Hadi

Same sex relationships are legal in Jordan, but the LGBT community remains subject to discrimination and prejudice. Sexuality in general remains a taboo topic, and sexual expression outside the context of traditional marriage is condemned. Most Jordanians do not know any openly LGBT people and many dismiss homosexuality as part of a dangerous foreign agenda, aligned with Western thought and cultural imperialism. LGBT Jordanians are therefore often torn between their sexuality and their Muslim Arab identity.

Although there are no official legal measures taken against LGBT bloggers or journalists who cover LGBT issues objectively, they face the same discrimination. In general, the local media sensationalize and misrepresent LGBT topics. Jordanian officials will not incentivize local media to create LGBT positive content due to the prevailing anti-LGBT sentiment among their constituents. Changes in content will have to come from small, independent media that can be distributed online, like blog posts, comics, and short videos. Internet freedom is therefore central to the future of LGBT rights in Jordan. LGBT individuals deserve the right to safely express themselves online, along with mainstream segments of Jordanian society.

“In the midst of all that is unsafe there is a haven…[the internet] allows us to connect and access literature, film, and news reflecting similar communities.” — Interviewee, Amman

Yet Jordan’s legal system includes poorly defined bans on offending morals, restrictions which are viewed as a potential threat to balanced, independent content about LGBT topics. Media reports on LGBT issues frequently undermine the safety and privacy of the LGBT community, particularly online, where content is deliberately sensationalized to attract readers and advertising revenue. Dating apps used by LGBT people have been exploited to blackmail and attack users. As a result of these issues, many LGBT people view online spaces as a minefield, instead of a safe haven.

Click here to download the full PDF report.

Please note, that this report was presented by My.Kali’s founder in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2016, Jalisco - Mexico, Under the supervision with Freedom House, December 7th, 2016.

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