Once Again Lebanon Defends Homophobia

LGBT-protestLebanon’s response to the Universal Period Review (UPR) recommendations on LGBT rights is very disappointing and full of lies and misleading arguments.

The Lebanese law enforcement apparatus continue to exercise violence, intimidation, arrests and violations against LGBT people based on the suspicion of their non hetero sexual orientation. Arrests have been documented last year and this year of over 30 people (those are the ones we know of) many of whom were exploited, tortured and humiliated.

The representative of the ministry of justice should be ashamed from such a response that is inhumane, misleading, full of lies and classifies same-sex relations as un-natural and portrays the “light sentencing” of misdemeanor as just and fair. The response also fails to point out that the two heroic judges who made the landmark rulings in favor of same-sex relations were ostracized and alienated by the ministry and the association of Judges. This is not acceptable, more pressure needs to be done to annul this shameful law that sets us back centuries in the past. People should be able to live in dignity regardless of who they love.

The Government should stop looking into our bedrooms and start by picking up the trash from the streets!  #YouStink #EqualityForAll, LGBT Rights are Human Rights, #StopDiscrimination

Here are the recommendations from the Universal Period Review followed by Lebanon’s disappointing response:

Universal Periodic Review – Lebanon
SOGIE Recommendations, November 2nd 2015 and the official response of Lebanon

Spain: recommends that Lebanon repeal article 534 of the criminal code and promoting protection of the LGBTI community.

Sweden: recommends securing the human rights of LGBT persons by amending article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code and by codifying the protection against discrimination of LGBT persons into the law.

Austria: recommends that Lebanon reform existing laws that can be used to discriminate against LGBTI persons including article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code criminalizing sexual acts against nature.

Canada: recommends that Lebanon repeal article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexuality, and pass legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Chile: recommends that Lebanon guarantee the protection of equal rights for LGBTI populations.

Czech Republic: recommends that Lebanon revise article 534 of the penal code so that it doesn’t discriminate against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Norway: recommends that Lebanon decriminalize homosexuality and ensure non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Response from a Representative from the Ministry of Justice:

“With regard to the rights of sexual minorities, when it comes to trying to combat violence on the grounds of sexual orientation, the government would like to indicate that article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code punishes all acts deemed to be contrary to nature. Lebanese courts apply this provision, which criminalizes same-sex sexual relations. These are deemed to run counter to nature, however, Lebanese courts have adopted a fairly light touch with regards to punishing such crimes. A prison term is provided for in the legislation, but often, attenuating circumstances are applied and those concerned may be issued with a less serious sentence. Generally speaking, I can tell you that two criminal judges have handed down conviction in 2009 and 2014 and they ruled that article 534 did not apply to acts committed by persons of the same sex. Similarly, although the law punishes homosexual relationships, this law cannot be used as grounds to justify any violence on the basis of the sexual orientation of those persons. Similarly, I can tell you that the Lebanese justice system has rejected all sexual orientation based violence in all its forms and the public prosecutors office and the courts of appeal have issued a blanket ban on all physical examinations to seek evidence of same-sex sexual relationships since this has been deemed humiliating for all those involved. Instructions have been provided in very clear terms for law enforcement officials, the police. All forms of humiliation, discrimination, and violence against persons within this category are outlawed. Instructions have also been issued to medial professionals with a view to preventing any anal examinations, which may be deemed to be humiliating for those involved.”

Special report: Lebanese-Brazilians

A beautiful and well-researched piece by Joe Dyke documenting the Lebanese migration to Brazil from the late 1800s till today… Published in the Executive Magazine, July 2014

Joe Dyke Journalist

I have recently completed a month-long trip to Brazil in which I was reporting extensively on the Lebanese-Brazilian diaspora (and watching the World Cup!) For those that don’t know, there are perhaps twice as many Brazilians of Lebanese descent as there are people inside Lebanon itself. They are also hugely powerful and economically successful.

One of the first ships to take Lebanese people to Brazil One of the first ships to take Lebanese people to Brazil

As such I spent a few weeks meeting senior Lebanese-Brazilians, including an interview with Michel Temer – Brazil’s vice-president. I also wrote an extensive history of Lebanese emmigration to Brazil, which was fascinating to research and write. I have copied and pasted the first part of it below.

You can view all the articles here.

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Scheherazade: Scent, Illusion and Burial عطر وهم ودفن شهرزاد – ليلى كوركيس

‘Scheherazade: Scent, Illusion and Burial’ is an artistic collaboration between University of Iowa Department of Dance Professor Alan Sener, the Lebanese-born/Canadian writer Leila Gorguis, and New York City choreographer/performer Columbine Macher. It is the second UITV produced program conceived by Sener – the first was entitled The Lyre of Ur – in which the poetic spoken arabic words of Gorguis inspire the making of original dance for the camera.
Sener is pleased to be working with video producer Ben Hill and his crew of student film makers to realize another program of poetry and dance, this time featuring colorful movement interpretations by Macher that illuminate three Gorguis poems regarding the character of Scheherazade, the famous storyteller of the Arabian epic ‘The Thousand and One Nights’.

A beautiful and eloquent expression of love, sorrow and sensuality by Leila Gorguis. She spoke my mind when she said: “الحب يرفض الصفات، في حرفيه الكمال”