LEbanon Hub




Lebanese Court Ruling Invalidates Law Criminalizing Gay Sex

A court case in Jdeideh, Lebanon has invalidated Article 534, a law which criminalizes "unnatural sexual intercourse," and is being heralded as a major step toward equal rights for LGBT persons. Judge Naji al-Dahdah ruled that the law did not provide clear interpretation for this case, which involved a sexual relationship between a transgender woman and a male lover.  

LebanonThe Daily Star reports:

“It’s a big step; it shows we’re moving in the right direction,” said Georges Azzi, a prominent activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights who is also the co-founder of Helem, a Lebanese group that has long been campaigning to change the law.

“The more we have decisions like this the more Article 534 becomes irrelevant,” Azzi told The Daily Star. “Any legal change takes a lot of time but at least this article might stop being used to persecute gay and transgender people in Lebanon.”

A prior ruling, from December 2009, argued that sex between two people of the same gender is another extension of man's nature and therefore cannot be prosecuted. This new case was complicated by the involvement of transgender politics, but LGBT rights activists are pleased with the outcome.

In his final ruling, Dahdah said that a person’s gender should not simply be based on their personal status registry document, but also on their outward physical appearance and self-perception.

“Dahdah is not someone that we know is particularly involved in these issues,” said Azzi. “He’s not part of the circle of activists, lawyers and judges [who campaign for gay rights], which makes his decision even more impressive.”

Azzi nonetheless insisted there was still much to do. “On the judges front we are making huge steps. Now we need to change the attitude of the police and security forces,” he said.


2 Men Arrested For 'Immoral Activity' In Lebanon

LebanonLess than a month after 36 Lebanese men suspected of being gay were rounded up at a theater, two men in their twenties have been arrested after getting caught in the back of a car together:

From Haaretz:

Police in Beirut arrested two men on Friday morning on suspicion that they are gay, media reports claimed.

The two men, aged 22 and 24, were arrested in the Ashrafieh neighborhood after being caught while undertaking what was called in media reports 'immoral activity' in a car belonging to one of the suspects.

The men face up to a year in jail if convicted of "unnatural" intercourse.


Human Rights Watch To Lebanon: No More Anal Probes

HamraStreetBeirutIt's both inexpressibly sad and deeply ridiculous that the Human Rights Watch, the four-star charity founded in 1978 to enforce the Helsinki Accords, must in 2012 issue a press release demanding that Lebanese police officers cease performing anal probes on suspected gay men. But they must, and they have.

From HRC:

“Forensic anal examinations of men suspected of homosexual contact, conducted in detention, constitute degrading and humiliating treatment,” said Rasha Moumneh, a Middle East and North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, based in Beirut. “These ‘tests of shame,’ as local activists call them, should stop immediately – the state has no business punishing and degrading its citizens for consensual sexual conduct.”

In case you're wondering: When Lebanese cops probe your bum, they're looking for semen. The consensus among those few mainstream scientists who think about such things is that the probes are unreliable.

The issue's come up because of the police raid of a gay cinema in Beirut on July 29th, in which 36 men were arrested for peaceably watching a movie. They were all probed. Some were released post-probe; some were not. Those convicted of having performed sexual acts "contradicting the laws of nature" could be sentenced to up to a year in prison.


Lebanon: Gay Oasis in the Middle East?

Beirut

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...

Continue reading "Lebanon: Gay Oasis in the Middle East?" »


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RoadYouTube removes musician Calvin Harris' own video from his YouTube page over copyright infringement.

RoadSan Jose, California's Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center in danger of closing, needs $50,000.

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RoadRomania bans same-sex marriage. U.S. anti-gay group Alliance Defense Fund claims influence: "Alliance Defense Fund played a prominent role in assisting supporters in the Romanian parliament. 'Through Peter Costea, who is one of our allied attorneys and the head of Alliance for Romanian Families, who's been doing excellent work in Romania, got these provisions enacted in the law,' Kiska points out, 'and we're just happy to see in Europe these types of protections being afforded to marriage.' Kiska concludes that Romania has a strong history of supporting traditional marriage, as do most European nations. Romania's new civil code will take effect January 1, 2010.


Beirut, Lebanon Gay Rights Activists Hold New Rally

 The second major rally in four months has been held by a gay and lesbian activist group in Lebanon, Calcutta News reports:

Beirut "Gay men and women in Lebanon have taken to the streets in a brave effort to show the rainbow flag.  Protesters on Sunday carried banners and unfurled flags at a sit-in for gays and lesbians in Beirut.  The region's only overt gay rights organisation, Helem, which is based in Lebanon, is preparing for a campaign to overturn the law that makes homosexuality illegal. Helem has been responsible for organising the only overt gay rights protests ever to be held in the Arab world. In February, nearly two dozen gays and lesbians waved rainbow flags in a downtown Beirut square, carrying banners demanding homosexual rights.  They were protesting what they said was the beating of two gay men by police.  Helem is now set to challenge Lebanon's Article 534, which prohibits sexual relations that 'contradict the laws of nature.' The region has seen a recent spike in killings of homosexuals, blamed by some on the influence of Islamic extremists."

The AP looks at the gay rights struggle in Lebanon.

The screencap above is from a clip of February's protest, which you can view, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Beirut, Lebanon Gay Rights Activists Hold New Rally" »


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