May 17 will mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (or IDAHOT), commemorating the day in 1990 when the World Health Association removed homosexuality as a disease. In anticipation, a Lebanese civil society group which goes by the name of ‘Proud Lebanon‘ has released a promotional video calling for LGBT rights in Lebanon.
The video, which features many prominent Lebanese personalities such as director Zeina Daccache and TV host Fouad Yammine as well as Cynthia Karam, Bruno Tabbal, Carole Abboud, Bechara Atallah, Rabih Salloum, Medea Azouri, Jana Younes, Christine Choueiri, Natacha Choufani, Yvonne el-Hachem, Pauline Haddad, Elie Youssef and André Nacouzi, calls for Lebanon to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to not discriminate against ‘those who are different’.
بتعرفوا إنو أول مادة بحقوق الانسان بقول إنو كل الناس متساويين بالكرامه و الحقوق.
بتعرفوا إنو بالقرن 21 بعد في ناس عم بيتعرضو للضرب، للتمييز، للإعتقال حتى أوقات للقتل بس لأنن مثليين. الاختلاف مش عيب. العيب هو محاربة الاختلاف. فيه يكون خيك، فيه يكون جارك أو زميلك بالشغل. فيا تكون اختك، رفيقتك أو حتى مديرتك بالشغل. مش لأنك رافض تعترف بوجودن، يعني هني مش موجودين. ما بكفي نعترض عالظلم، لازم كلنا نشتغل لنبدل هل قوانين الظالمه. القوانين بتحمي كل المواطنين. لأنو القوانين هي للحماية مش للإضطهاد. كلنا خلقنا احرار ومتساويين. بعرف إنو صعب نواجه المجتمع بس عالقليله القانون لازم يكون صح. الديموقراطيه مش بس اكثريه واقليه، هي تأمين الحماية لكل المواطنين. مش ضروري تكون فقير لتدافع عن حقوق الفقرا. مش ضروري تكون مرأة، لتدافع عن حقوق المرأة. مش ضروري تكون لاجئ لتدافع عن حقوق اللاجئين. مش ضروري تكون مثلي لتدافع عن حقوق المثليين. بيكفي تكون إنسان. بيكفي تكون انسان… لو اختلفنا ما لازم نختلف، لو اختلفنا ما لازم نختلف.. حتى لو اختلفنا ما لازم نختلف، لو اختلفنا ما لازم نختلف . لاقونا ب 17 ايار بمسرح هوتيل مونرو تنتشارك سوا باليوم العالمي ضد رهاب المثليين من الساعة 11 الصبح لل ساعة 6 المساء.
Did you know that the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights? Did you know that in the 21st century, there are still people being beaten, stigmatized, arrested and in some cases even killed… just because they are LGBT? Being different isn't shameful… what's shameful is fighting diversity. He could be your brother, your neighbor or your co-worker. She could be your sister, your friend, or even your boss at school. If you don't recognize their existence, it doesn't mean that they don't exist. Protesting this injustice isn't enough. We should all work together to change these unjust laws and replace them with laws that protect all citizens. Because laws are for protection, not discrimination. We were all born free and equal. I know that it's hard to face society, but at least the laws need to be just. Democracy is not only majority and minority, it is to provide security to all citizens. You don't have to be poor to defend the rights of the poor. You don't have to be a woman, to defend the rights of women. You don't have to be a refugee, to defend the rights of refugees. And you don't have to be gay, to defend the rights of LGBT. Being human is enough. Even if we are different, we shouldn't disagree. Meet us on May 17 at Hotel Monroe to participate together at IDAHOT from 11am till 6pm.
The legal status of LGBT rights in Lebanon isn't very clear. While there is no law specifically forbidding homosexual relationships, there is an article – Article 534 – which forbids sexual acts that “contradict the laws of nature”. This article, however, has been dismissed by at least two judges as being invalid.
Indeed, in January 2014, a judge ruled that Article 534 cannot be valid as it “did not provide a clear interpretation of what was considered unnatural.” His decision was based on a previous court ruling made by another judge in 2009 reaching the same conclusion.
The 2014 ruling deserves particular mention. The story relates to an unnamed transgender woman who was accused of having sex with a man. When brought to his attention, Judge Naji El Dahdad of Jdeide Court rejected the case, stating that:
Gender identity is not only defined by the legal papers, the evolution of the person and his/her perception of his/her gender should be taken into consideration. Homosexuality is an exception to the norms but not unnatural therefore article 534 (which prohibits sexual relations that “contradict the laws of nature”) cannot be used against homosexuals, and therefore, technically, homosexuality is not illegal.
This article was written with the help of Nour Hajjar.