A court in Germany has handed out fines to the father and two uncles of a gay Muslim teenager after they abducted him and tried to marry him off to a Lebanese girl against his will.
Nasser El-Ahmad was 15 when he revealed to his family he was homosexual. The situation was unacceptable for his older relatives, who are of Lebanese origin, and they bundled Nasser into a car, which was intercepted by police on the Romanian-Bulgarian border after Interpol had issued a disappearance alert.
After a five-minute hearing in Berlin, the father and uncles were each fined 1,350 euros in absentia for depriving a minor his personal freedom by abducting him and taking him abroad.
The 18-year-old also alleges that he was subject to verbal threats and physical violence. He claims his father “said he would personally ram a knife into my throat” while his uncle covered him in petrol and threatened to set him alight. The Berlin court did not handle these separate allegations of torture, but the abduction occurred after Nasser was put into care having run away from home.
Nasser, unlike the accused, was present at the hearing and wore a badge marked “STOP HOMOPHOBIA”. He told reporters afterwards: “At least this came to court and I am happy for that. I’m not someone who hides. I don’t want to suppress my homosexuality.”
The case has highlighted the issue of forced marriages in Germany and the risks faced by gay men in the country’s four-million-strong Muslim community. Of an estimated 460 cases of forced marriage known to Berlin authorities, 29 involved men.
The case has been widely followed in Germany. Shortly after the court’s verdict film director and gay rights activist Rosa von Praunheim hailed the young man’s courage, saying “It was a very brave step as a homosexual…to question a religious society that is very conservative and lives in the Middle Ages. Gays and young women are in the same boat.”