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.”

When Arabs Think The Apocalypse Is Near Because The US Legislated Same-Sex Marriage

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Originally posted on A Separate State of Mind | A Blog by Elie Fares:
I’m so honored and flattered to be living in the most open-minded and widely-accepting region of the world. Not only is everything peachy, wonderful and exceedingly rainbow-y around this place, but people in the region are adamant that their quality of life…

On Human Rights, Homophobia and Donors’ Priorities

On Human Rights, Homophobia and Donors’ Priorities

I had an interesting side conversation last night about donors priorities versus civil society needs. I do agree that sometimes there need to be a better rapprochement between the two so as to reduce the level of corruption, and implementing projects for the sake of pleasing the donor rather than addressing the issues that are at the core of the NGO’s interest.

However, I would like to note a few points on this issue:
1- Mushrooming NGOs and benefit oriented NGOs or the so called “family business NGOs” are there and will always please the donor because they are opportunists and all they think of is the money. I see and work with NGOs everyday that refuse to abide by donors priorities and are still able to make a change in their environment. And they have my respect and the donors’. They are committed to their cause, they are doing their best to find other funding sources. And yes it is a bit more challenging for them, but at the end of the day they are still doing by their mission and cause because they believe in it.

2- I was stricken by the example which a dear (very dear) human rights activist and friend of mine gave me to support his theory on disparity between donors and beneficiaries priorities: “If the donor wants to support LGBT rights, well this not our top priority, we have other more important things to look at…”
Well my dear friend, and my dear civil society colleagues, every Human Rights campaign is a priority for the group that is concerned by it. When every day men, women and transgender people are arrested and put in jail, sexual, physically abused, when they are thrown out of their jobs, bullied by their families and communities, when they suffer from sickness and do not get the proper care, I cannot allow myself to say or even think that their needs are not a Human Rights priority.
Every Human Rights issue is a priority because when we stop believing so, these questions of rights loose the attribution of HUMANITY, of HUMAN and they become a number of random rights that we address by choice or convenience.

For once and for all, when we talk about LGBT rights, about dignity, equality, hope, freedom, justice, we are talking about the rights of the most discriminated against portion of our society. A portion that is often the most creative, compassionate, innovative and brave, but living a double life, hiding from discrimination and bullying. I cannot stop thinking of LGBT rights as a Human Rights priority when there are laws in Lebanon that discriminate against LGBT people and can put them in jail.

Human Rights are universal, there is no such thing as a priority in Human Rights, there is no suchLGBT-Rights-Hillary-Clinton thing as a priority in injustice! The LGBT community is a core part of our Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Near Eastern, Arab, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, Atheist, Deist, Rural, Urban, Nomade communities. I am so done with hearing discriminatory comments on this issue. It is time to mature, grow up and understand that Homophobia is wrong, Homophobia is weak, Homophobia is every indication of contempt, lack of empathy and dismissal of the rights of LGBT people, equally human to every one in humanity.

If the donors are making LGBT rights a priority, it’s because we are blind enough to see and recognize the needs of a discriminated against, disadvantaged and marginalized community…

This is what I believe in — Eliane Fersan