Persecution of Homosexuals (Lebanon)

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Note that this page may contain news regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people (LGBTT)

Two lesbians arrested for engaging in “unnatural” sexual practices

Two lesbians were arrested Thursday for engaging in “unnatural” sexual practices, under orders from Mount Lebanon’s Public Prosecution Office.

According to judicial sources, the women, who were caught in flagrante delicto, confessed to having relations for several years and said they wished to be united in matrimony. The sources said the two also sought to have a test-tube baby together, and affirmed to Mount Lebanon assistant public prosecutor Shawki Hajjar that they would join each other once released from jail.

Hajjar ordered that each woman be held in custody in a separate cell on charges of having unnatural sexual relations. Article 534 of the penal code identifies having sexual relations “contradicting the laws of nature” as a crime carrying a penalty of up to one year in prison.

The sources said the women’s relationship was exposed after police stormed one of their homes to recover money and jewelry allegedly stolen from the mother of one of the women. The mother had filed a complaint against her daughter, accusing her of stealing the valuables.

Both women were also charged with theft, which under Article 636 carries a penalty of between two months and three years in prison.

Asylum seeker whose former lover was beaten and his gay cousin was shot in the anus and later killed, fears being arrested, tortured, or killed if sent back to Lebanon

A gay Lebanese man suffering from AIDS has enough reason to fear persecution in his native country that he shouldn’t be deported while he is seeking asylum in the United States, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The ninth U.S. circuit court of appeals, reversing the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington, found Monday that Nassier Mustapha Karouni’s fear of being arrested, tortured, or killed in a country where homosexuality is considered a crime was based in fact and not just emotion. “The record demonstrates that...militants and certain factions of the Lebanese and local governments are a credible threat to homosexuals like Karouni,” Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the three-judge panel.

In determining that Karouni’s sexual orientation makes him eligible for refugee status, the court rejected the Justice Department’s argument that Karouni could avoid the fate of gay friends who were beaten, jailed, or murdered if he refrained from having sex upon his return home. “The attorney general appears content with saddling Karouni with the Hobson’s choice of returning to Lebanon and either facing persecution for engaging in future homosexual acts or living a life of celibacy. In our view, neither option is acceptable,” Pregerson wrote.
. . .
Karouni first came to the United States on a visitor’s visa in 1987 and applied for asylum in 1998. Immigration officials ordered him deported for overstaying his visa, and he appealed, citing the experience of a former lover who was beaten and a gay cousin who was shot in the anus and later killed, allegedly by members of the militant Islamic group Hezbollah.

He also testified that two men armed with machine guns came to his apartment after learning that he had been in a relationship with another man and that if he returned to Lebanon, he would not be able to receive treatment for AIDS.

Two gay men caught making love in an uninhabited building. Soldiers insult, humiliate and savagely beat them in public. One of the half naked men is paraded in front of the public before being arrested

The Lebanese gay community is angry, so are the human rights associations. They are outraged by the medieval practices of authorities when dealing with homosexuals who openly came out of the closet.

The incident, reported by Alef, association for human rights, took place last Thursday evening, when two gay men, reckless and unconscious, were making love in the lobby of an uninhabited building in Sassine Sqaure, Achrafieh, assuming they were safe.

Discovering the two men in action, the Lebanese army soldiers stationed in the district to submit a real public beating. Nothing was strong enough, punching, kicking, rifle butts, insults, humiliation. One of them, half naked, was exhibited to the public of bystanders, just for the fun of it.

Deaf to the pleas of the two men that were caught red handed, the soldiers were doing it with great joy. The whole neighborhood was in the street, attracted by the scene. Any customer of any coffee of the corner nearby. Both men were bloodied, but this did not diminish the determination or the savagery of the soldiers, those newly delegated to preserve public morality.

Fortunately, voices of condemnation among the crowd, taking pity at the sight, put an end to the beating. Both homosexuals were arrested, in spite of the supplications of one of the men fearing for his reputation, married man with family, with a certain reputation.

Held all night by troops, the men were transferred yesterday to the barracks of Hobeiche, by the order of Attorney General. A place known not to be particularly kind to prisoners.

Certainly, the case will be camouflaged. A beautiful Lebanese custom to avoid putting the finger on the wound. The wound in question is the barbaric and unacceptable reaction of the soldiers facing the display of homosexuality.

The men had sinful, of recklessness and even inattention. But is that a valid excuse to beat them and treat them like this? Was it necessary to bring down the whole neighborhood and humiliate them? Is it right to point them out as gangsters?

It is time for lawmakers to reconsider these laws, which are obsolete, ridiculous and from a totally different era, a law which still condemns homosexuality in Lebanon. At a time when gay marriage is permitted in many countries, the authorities continue to hypocritically deny the simplest expression of a reality that they do not understand. But they will have to face it sooner or later.
Barbaric homophobia, Sassine Square
Anne-Marie el-Hage, L'Orient-Le Jour, January 25, 2009

Men shamed and gay cinemas shut down after MTV show broadcasts undercover camera footage, MTV host says Hitler his personal idol, and sometimes a person like him is needed in order to reduce the number of gays

“In May, an MTV show hosted by Joe Makhlouf called Enta Horr (You are Free) showed undercover camera footage of men in porn cinemas in Beirut and Tripoli,” the website said. “The featured cinemas were subsequently shut down. At the time, the gay rights organization Helem condemned the program, criticizing MTV for showing footage of the men without their knowledge and calling it ‘unethical and unprofessional.’”
. . .

According to NOW Lebanon, Makhlouf said he had stressed that his program was not a witch-hunt against homosexuals, and denied accusations of homophobia, saying, “I believe we should protect the rights of homosexuals.”

Yet Gay Star News reported that Lebanese paper El-Nashra had previously quoted Makhlouf “speaking on a radio program saying that Hitler is his personal idol, and sometimes a person like him is ‘needed’ in order to ‘reduce the numbers.’ He did not state who he meant by ‘the numbers’ but activists have taken this to mean LGBT people as well as others.”

The Lebanon-based Helem (an Arabic acronym for “Lebanese Protection for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders”), has sharply criticized Makhlouf and now believes he is backpedaling because of pressure on his anti-gay campaign.
Lebanese authorities arrest 36 men at gay cinema
Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2012

Security authorities raid and shut down a gay cinema, arrest and detain 36 men, perform anal probes on them ("the practice involves an egg-shaped device being inserted into the anus to find traces of sperm")

Lebanese security authorities swooped in on a gay cinema in Beirut on Saturday and shut down the movie house, arresting 36 male attendees and performing anal probes on them.

According to a report on the Gay Star News website on Monday, “an unknown number” of the 36 had been released after an unnamed doctor administered the anal exam – a procedure meant to detect sperm.

The website NOW Lebanon reported on Tuesday that the theater, Plaza Cinema, was not the first such venue that authorities had closed down.
. . .
Georges Azzi, a co-founder of Helem, established contact with the Hobeiche Barracks, where the 36 men were being detained, according to NOW Lebanon. He reported that the men had undergone anal examinations.

According to the website, “the practice involves an egg-shaped device being inserted into the anus to find traces of sperm. It has been widely criticized by human rights organizations, which call the practice outdated, discriminatory and a violation of human dignity.”

Human rights lawyer Nizar Saghieh told the website that a statement condemning the probes and calling for an end to the practice had been sent to the Ministry of Justice.

Stuart Appelbaum, a leading gay rights activist in New York and head of the Jewish Labor Committee, condemned these incidents.

“These Lebanese attempts to dehumanize and criminalize people because of their sexuality are far beyond anything remotely resembling common decency,” he wrote to the Post on Tuesday. “These actions are a stain on Lebanese society. We all must express our outrage.”
Lebanese authorities arrest 36 men at gay cinema
Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2012

Two men (in their 20s and 30s) arrested in Beirut’s Ashrafieh after being caught "committing actions against decency" in a car

Two Lebanese men were arrested for “indecent behavior” in the Ashrafieh neighborhood of Beirut, the National News Agency reported on Friday.

“They were caught committing actions against decency” in a car, said the report, adding that the men were identified as Ali A.M. – born in 1970 – and Zakaria A.A. – born in 1990.

Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits sexual relations that "contradict the laws of nature.”