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Family tried to force gay son to marry

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Nasser El-A. at Berlin Criminal Court. Photo: DPA
12:05 CET+01:00
A Berlin court handed out fines to the family of an 18-year-old-man after they attempted to force him to marry despite being homosexual.

Nasser El-A. came out as gay when he was 15, which his Lebanese relatives found unacceptable because of their interpretation of the Muslim faith.

His family then tried to force him into marriage, to "put him back on the right path" before kidnapping him with the intention of taking him back to Lebanon.

Today members of the family, his father and two uncles, stood trial at Berlin Criminal Court, but only received fines of €1350 each as punishment.

The measures may seem minor but Nasser is pleased to have brought his situation into the public eye and hopefully started a debate.

After the judgement he said "I have managed to bring this case to court. For me this chapter in my life is over now."

"I'm not someone who hides away. I don't want to suppress my sexuality." He added defiantly.

When Nasser first told his family about his sexuality in 2012, he suffered terrible threats and physical violence. His uncle covered him in petrol and threatened to set him alight and later poured boiling water all over him.

"My father said he would personally ram a knife into my throat" Nasser told Tagesspiegel.

Nasser ran away from home rather than face the abuse, but he wasn’t sure where to go. The lack of accommodation or shelter for vulnerable young men was another important point he wanted to highlight with his case.

He eventually found refuge with an organisation called Papatya, which is aimed at vulnerable girls and young women.

When he was later invited home by his mother, while his father was out at work, he returned to the family home only to be kidnapped.

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The family wanted to take him back to Lebanon in order to force him into marriage, but were luckily stopped by authorities on the Romanian-Bulgarian border and brought back to Berlin.

Forced marriage for men is not uncommon in Germany. There are no exact statics but of the 460 cases known of by the Berlin authorities, 29 affected men.

The trial itself may have been somewhat of an anticlimax, with the father and uncles not turning up, but Nasser nonetheless struck a defiant figure in court.

He was pictured wearing a badge saying "Stop homophobia" and a rainbow wristband in widely-circulated photos - making sure that he brought his cause to the widest audience he could reach.

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