Over the past week, the Lebanese capital of Beirut has set an extraordinary precedent for the Middle East by hosting Beirut Pride Week, the region’s first-ever public celebration of LGBT awareness on such a grand scale. LGBT rights groups and supportive nongovernmental organizations have been holding events — including fashion exhibits, story-telling sessions and human rights conferences — in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), with a big outdoor party planned for this Sunday in the country’s capital. This isn’t the first time that Lebanon’s LGBT community has marked IDAHOT, but it’s certainly the first time it has received such widespread attention, some of it controversial. This week’s festival has received wide international coverage, symbolic support from Western governments (with British and Dutch embassies in Beirut raising the rainbow flag) and threats from religious extremists.
May 20 / Washington Post