Lebanese General Security officers unlawfully attempted to shut down a conference on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people on September 29, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch staff members were among the participants at NEDWA, a conference organized by the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE), a group that works to advance LGBT and other human rights. Late on the conference’s third day, officers from General Security, arrived at the hotel where the conference was being held and questioned AFE executive director Georges Azzi, directing him to cancel the conference and sign a pledge to cease any activities related to the conference. When Azzi refused, the officers ordered the hotel to shut down the conference.
The law provides for equality among all citizens and prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status. Although the government generally respected these provisions, they were not enforced, especially with regard to economic matters, and aspects of the law and traditional beliefs discriminated against women.... Expand
The law provides for equality among all citizens and prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status. Although the government generally respected these provisions, they were not enforced, especially with regard to economic matters, and aspects of the law and traditional beliefs discriminated against women. The law does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Official and societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons persisted. There is no all-encompassing antidiscrimination law to protect LGBT persons. The law prohibits “unnatural sexual intercourse,” an offense punishable by up to one year in prison but rarely applied; however, it often resulted in a fine. The Ministry of Justice did not keep records on these infractions. There were no reports authorities imprisoned anyone for violation of this law during the year.
Meem, the first NGO in the country exclusively for nonheterosexual women, and the NGO Helem hosted regular meetings in a safe house, provided counseling services, and carried out advocacy projects for the LGBT community.
Information was not available on official or private discrimination in employment, occupation, housing, statelessness, or lack of access to education or health care based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The government did not collect such information, and individuals who faced problems were reluctant to report incidents due to fear of additional discrimination. There were no government efforts to address potential discrimination. During the year Oui Pour La Vie, an NGO working on the issue of stigma and discrimination against LGBT persons, reported employers expelled two transgender women and one gay person from their work because of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
NGOs claimed LGBT persons underreported incidents of violence and abuse due to negative social stereotypes. Observers received reports from LGBT refugees of physical abuse by local gangs, which the victims did not report to the ISF; observers referred victims to UNHCR-sponsored protective services.
Source: U.S. Department of State's  Human Rights Report
When a Lebanon court of appeal upheld a ruling in July that adult, consensual same-sex conduct is not an “unnatural offence,” a wave of excitement rippled through Lebanese lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Article 534 of the Penal Code, a relic of the French mandate in Lebanon, bans “sexual intercourse contrary to nature”. It has long been used by police to harass, arrest and sometimes prosecute people based on their presumed sexual orientation or gender identity. People who face multiple forms of oppression in Lebanon – transgender women, for instance, or gay Syrian refugees – are often the most likely to be targeted, say Lebanese activists who provide legal aid and other services.
When it comes to gay rights, Lebanon is known as one of the more liberal countries in the Middle East -- yet homosexuality has had a complicated legal status. The Lebanese Penal Code's Article 534 says that sexual relations "contrary to the course of nature" can incur a punishment of up to a year in prison. However, in July this year, an appeals court in the country ruled that consensual sex between two people of the same sex is not unlawful -- marking the highest level court ruling of its kind. But long before the ruling, individuals in Lebanon had been creating new ways of expression for the LGBTQ community.
A court in Lebanon has ruled that the country’s law does not ban homosexuality. The decision to uphold the acquittal of nine people prosecuted for being gay in 2017 has been celebrated by activists, who view it as a landmark moment in the fight to decriminalize homosexuality. The July 12 ruling was handed down by a Mount Lebanon appeals court, the highest judicial authority to find in favor of equality so far, according to AFP.
It took him more than two months to prepare, coming up with the concept, assembling his outfit and rehearsing. Then on the big night, a five-hour session putting on makeup. The very last step, he slid on the red lace gloves with 4-inch (10-centimeter) red fingernails that he had specially ordered from the United States. Elias was transformed into Melanie Coxxx. She was ready for her most important show: The largest drag ball in Lebanon. Because this is Lebanon, where homosexuality and dressing as the opposite gender are against the law, he sat in the back of his mother's car with darkened windows, a scarf over his head, for the drive from his home just outside Beirut to the club. That didn't unnerve Coxxx. Elias says his character, inspired by transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox, is "fearless." "She is the person that makes me more alive, more powerful," Elias said. "When I put everything on... I take the courage (from her). (She is) guiding me to go out and just perform."
The only gay pride event in the Arab world has been canceled after the organizer was held by police. Hadi Damien was detained overnight on Tuesday and said after his release: ‘Beirut Pride made a lot of people proud of Lebanon. Hadi Damien was detained overnight on Tuesday and said after his release: ‘Beirut Pride made a lot of people proud of Lebanon. ‘And this cancellation made a lot of people sad and disappointed.’ He was held by Lebanese authorities who released him only when he signed a pledge to cancel the week’s remaining events. Last year, Lebanon became the first Arab country to hold a gay pride week, though the opening event was canceled because of safety concerns after threats of violence.
From giving refuge to offering makeup sessions, Helem is an umbrella for some of Lebanon’s most marginalised people. Tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood of Beirut, Helem, the first community centre for LGBTQI+ people in the Arab world, opens its doors every day from midday to evening. Everyone is welcome. Inside, in a study bathed by the afternoon sunshine, Wael Hussein, a 24-year-old gay man, is chatting with Naya, a transgender woman, ahead of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) on Thursday. Behind the two is a bookcase filled with donated titles, including Les Amantes by French lesbian writer Jocelyne François. “This is my other home, I consider people here as my family,” says Wael. “Many come to find friends – outside, they find it difficult to be accepted.” Compared with other countries in the Middle East, such as Iran where homosexuality is punishable by death, Lebanon has a relatively thriving LGBT community.
Lebanon's LGBT festival, the only event of its kind in the Arab world, was suspended after authorities interrogated its organiser and threatened him with prosecution, he said Wednesday (May 16). The second edition of Beirut Pride had started on Saturday with a concert starring "Alsarah and the Nubatones", a band fronted by a Brooklyn-based Sudanese singer. The week-long event was to include cultural events, talks and readings aimed at raising awareness, minus the extravagant parades held at Pride events elsewhere. But Lebanon's General Security agency stopped a reading set for Monday evening and summoned festival organiser Hadi Damien for questioning, he said in a statement.
When Georges Azzi co-founded Helem, the first LGBT advocacy group in the Arab world, in 2004, he quickly got used to visits from Beirut’s police force. “They would come to the office and drag me to the station,” said Azzi. “They would say, ‘We need to interrogate you,’ or call me and ask me to come down to see them. They would question me for one and a half hours. They would ask, ‘What kind of activities do you do?’ ‘Do you organize orgies?’ They would ask personal questions.” Later, realizing Helem—which means “Dream” in Arabic—had support among the media, the police would “shift their strategies” and inform Azzi that they had heard other people wanted to kill him, he said. “It was psychological pressure,” Azzi said. “Another way to try to scare me.”
For the first time, Lebanon political officials are addressing—and fighting for—LGBT rights in the country. As CNN writes, elections are being held for the first time in nine years to determine Lebanon’s next group of elected officials. And for the first time in history, the rights of queer people are being directly addressed. Nearly 100 Lebanese officials are advocating for LGBT rights, making it the most high-level endorsement of protection for the community in the Arab world. Despite the danger, activists are also doing their share to ensure that the voices of LGBT people are heard. Among the most visible has been Ameen Rhayem, whose work advocating for LGBT people in the region has him facing up to a year in jail for violating Lebanon’s Article 534, which makes it illegal for “simply loving another man.”
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