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Human rights organisations are raising alarms over the recent actions of Jordanian authorities, accusing them of a crackdown on LGBTQ+ activists and organisations.

Reports from the Human Rights Watch (HRW) indicate a systematic campaign by the General Intelligence Department (GID) and the Public Security Directorate to suppress discussions around gender and sexuality.

According to HRW, multiple activists in Jordan have faced intimidation, threats of violence, arrests, and prosecution, resulting in the closure of LGBTQ+ organisations and forcing several activists to flee the country.

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Rasha Younes, a senior researcher at HRW’s LGBT program, emphasised that this campaign seeks to eliminate LGBTQ+ discourse from both public and private spaces in Jordan.

Interviews with 13 activists reveal a pattern of harassment, including repeated summonses for interrogation where they faced intimidation. The pressure has driven LGBTQ+ activism underground, leaving activists with a stark choice: severe self-censorship or exile.

One incident involved the owner of a cultural centre in Amman, who was interrogated by the city’s governor and forced to cancel an LGBTQ+ film screening event. Another director of an LGBTQ+ organisation shared that they had to shut down their operations and leave Jordan due to threats.

The crackdown continues despite Jordan’s legal stance, which does not criminalise same-sex activities. Sodomy laws, remnants of British rule, were abolished in 1951, making Jordan one of the few Middle Eastern countries without laws against same-sex relationships.

However, the societal acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals remains low. A World Values Survey indicates that over 95% of Jordanians view homosexuality as unethical, and 94% are unwilling to accept LGBTQ+ individuals as neighbours.

HRW has called on the Jordanian government to stop targeting individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity, protect freedom of expression, and respect the privacy of internet communications. They also urge the security forces to cease targeting and intimidating civil society activists, including LGBTQ+ individuals.

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