Lebanon Must Pave the Way for LGBT Rights in the Middle East
The Middle East has never welcomed gays. In fact, although infrequent in practice, some countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen and Egypt condemns the criminality of ‘unnatural’ intercourse by death or a heavy prison sentence (Kotecha, 2013, p.1). Although some activists in Lebanon are emerging to defend these rights, Lebanon still belongs to the above list in the legal point of view and in practice and that’s what makes it far from being the heaven for gays in the Middle East. As a first step toward being Liberal, Lebanon should show real openness by making serious incentives toward giving homosexuals their rights.
The first step toward Liberalism consists of the respect of human rights. Although the declaration of human rights does not explicitly express gay’s rights, its core objective is to protect individuals rights to live free and away from physical harm regardless from their sex, origin, race or gender. Therefore, violence against any individual is a disrespect of human rights that cannot be warranted by any religious or cultural assertion. Unfortunately, physical abuses against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) are still practiced in Lebanon leaving the victims with long lasting physical and psychological damages. Kotecha (2013), in her article “Lebanon’s gay-friendly reputation challenged by abuses”, stated that in 2012, the police broke into a Beirut cinema and detained more than 30 individuals supposed to be homosexuals. These individuals were exposed to physical abuses in terms of anal inspection in order to reveal whether they have been exposed to any unnatural sexual intercourse. The reporter continues in an interview with one the victims of these practices who stated that these examinations were painful and extremely embarrassing for him, and they left him with serious psychological and depression. For this reason Lebanese government should not allow any physical abuses on homosexuals, and must be firm by punishing those who violate these rights, and establish awareness campaigns in schools, universities and throughout social media which enlighten general public that LGBTs are actually people which should be accepted in the society and they are not second class citizen’s or freaks of nature to beat and abuse.
Moreover, article 534, under the Penal Code of the Lebanon constitution, condemns homosexuality for the reason of “unnatural sexual intercourse”. Activists from HELEM state that this article is a tool used by the Lebanese government to threaten the LGBT community, and those who are found guilty under this code were fined to spend one year in prison. (Mahdawi, 2009, p.1). Therefore, the second step toward Liberalism consists of abolishing such law which dates back to the colonial control by France (“The LGBT struggle in Lebanon”, 2011, p.4) because it will imply a big shift in the perspective of the whole country toward LGBTs,...