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Lebanon: Gay Oasis in the Middle East?


For those of you who have been to both, is Beirut "the Provincetown of the Middle East" as the NYT proclaims?

"While homosexual activity (technically, sexual relations that officials deem “unnatural”) is illegal in Lebanon, as in most of the Arab world, Beirut’s vitality as a Mediterranean capital of night life has fueled a flourishing gay scene — albeit one where men can be nervous about public displays of affection and where security guards at clubs can intercede if the good times turn too frisky on the dance floor. But even more than the partying, Beirut represents a different Middle East for some gay and lesbian Arabs: the only place in the region where they can openly enjoy a social life denied them at home."

In February, a series of gay rights rallies, the first-ever in Lebanon, began in Beirut. Watch footage from them, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. This is good to hear. It seems many of the Middle Eastern Nations are not what their leaders have them appear to be on the surface. People will live and be who they are regardless of the actions and policies of their government.

    Posted by: Andrew | Aug 3, 2009 9:53:01 AM

  2. It's a very cosmopolitan city, but it's not the "only place in the region" gays can be out. Despite the recent shooting, Tel Aviv is also extremely tolerant and has an active gay scene.

    But neither is like Provincetown, which is the gayest place I've ever been (certainly beats Key West, Palm Springs, and SF as a whole; I've never been to Fire Island).

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 3, 2009 7:44:34 PM

  3. While progress in Lebanon is certainly encouraging, the "gay oasis" in the Middle East would be Israel, despite the recent incident.

    However, Lebanon is not a harbinger for the greater Middle East. Although it does have a Muslim majority these days, it has a rather large Christian population, about 40%, especially in Beirut.

    Posted by: DaveO | Aug 4, 2009 1:47:21 AM

  4. I think Beirut is a fantastic city gay or not. By far it's the most beautiful, tolerant and charming in the Middle East! While Homosexuality is legal in Jordan and some other Arabic countries, the freedom and tolerance in Lebanon is incomparable. Oh by the way, There hasn't been gat bashing by religious figures in Beirut if you catch my drift.

    Posted by: Koko | Aug 4, 2009 3:41:13 PM

  5. Dear All,

    you are all focusing on an idea that Lebanon & Israel are really 2 different worlds, 2 REAL revivals (tourism wise & economical)!

    Lebanon represent the Arabian community and among these countries Lebanon remain the OASIS!

    never forget that most of the Arab Countries are not in good terms with Israel, so no Arab Tourists will go there!!

    besides, I don’t see at all Tolerance as you claim in Israel! starting from the harassments from doing the World gay pride in Jerusalem in 2006 - 2007 and the final shootings last week in one of the gay bars in Tel Aviv!
    so come on guys! nothing from this happen in Beirut!

    long life guys! enjoy our capital!

    Posted by: Lebanese | Aug 12, 2009 9:47:21 PM

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