Everyone is welcome. Compared with other countries in the Middle East, such as Iran where homosexuality is punishable by death, Lebanon has a relatively thriving LGBT community. But life is not without its hazards.
Lebanon is one of the most liberal, progressive and gay friendly places in the Arab world. This is saying a lot for a country where homosexuality is still a crime. However, by comparison to its Arab neighbours, Beirut has the best albeit quite underground gay scene, including one of the largest gay clubs in the Middle East called POSH.
BEIRUT - Lebanese activists have celebrated a court ruling they say paves the way towards decriminalizing homosexuality in the small Middle Eastern country. On Thursday, a Lebanese appeals court upheld the acquittal of nine people prosecuted over being gay. A lower court had found in January that year that their homosexuality was "a practice of their fundamental rights.
Lebanon is one of the more liberal, progressive and gay friendly countries in the Arab world. However, this is by Arabic standards. In other words, being gay in Lebanon won't get you arrested with the risk of death sentence as it would in say, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Ira nand neither is it as restrictive as in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. However, being openly gay in Lebanon is a criminal offence, so you definitely need to be cautious.
No explanation for the ban has been given. But despite some gains in recent years, the community still faces widespread discrimination. Judges ruled that the law could not be applied to consensual sex between adults of the same sex.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGBT persons living in Lebanon may face difficulties not experienced by non- LGBT residents, however, they are considerably more free than in other parts of the Arabic-speaking world. Various courts have ruled that Article of the Lebanese Penal Code, which prohibits having sexual relations that "contradict the laws of nature", should not be used to arrest LGBT people. InLGBT activists organised Lebanon's first pride parade, named Beirut Pride, but were forced to cancel due to terrorist threats from Islamic radicals.
Throughout the Arab world, gay, lesbian and transgender people face formidable obstacles to living a life of openness and acceptance in conservative societies. Although Jordan decriminalized same-sex behavior inthe gay community remains marginalized. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can be punished by flogging or death.
Homosexuality is not a mental disorder. In an unprecedented statement in July of this year, the Lebanese Psychiatric Society LPS became the first of its kind in the Arab region to declare that gay people are not mentally ill and do not require treatment. This was welcome news in the Lebanese homosexual community which has been more rapidly coming out of the closet in the past decade and battling for their rights.
Rabee is a good-looking young Lebanese man in his twenties, wearing a light-colored shirt and jeans. However, many gay Lebanese still live their lives in the closet, never telling their families or friends. Simon — who prefers that his last name not be used to protect anonymity — a social worker at the Lebanese gay rights organization Helem, says that Lebanese society remains intolerant of homosexuality.