Lebanon's declining security for the LGBTQ+ community

Lebanon’s historical context

Compared to some other Middle Eastern countries, Lebanon has traditionally been seen as relatively more tolerant towards the LGBTQ+ community. This more permissive attitude has been the result of several historical, social and cultural factors:

Cultural heritage and religious diversity: Lebanon has a rich history and religious diversity that has influenced its attitude towards sexual diversity. Unlike some neighbouring countries with a more homogenous religious identity, Lebanon has a mix of Christians and Muslims, which has contributed to a more open and, in some aspects, more tolerant society towards different identities and orientations.

Historical legacy: Lebanon’s history as a country that has been a melting pot of cultures and thoughts, has played an important role. Western influence and historical relations with European nations have influenced the social mentality and openness to different ways of seeing life.

Space for nightlife and liberal culture: Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, has been known for its vibrant nightlife and more liberal culture compared to other cities in the region. This has allowed for the creation of more open spaces for different sexual identities.

Over the years, there have been social movements and LGBTQ+ activism in Lebanon that have fought for the recognition of LGBTQ+ rights. These efforts have contributed to creating greater awareness and openness within Lebanese society.

Current situation

Lebanon, a nation traditionally seen as relatively more liberal compared to many of its neighbours in the Middle East, has recently faced a recent increase in verbal, legal and physical attacks, creating a toxic environment for its LGBTQ+ residents.

In a marked turn for the country, which has long shown relative tolerance in the region, iconic icons of the LGBTQ+ community are under attack. Drag shows, rainbow flags, films and school books are all coming under attack from politicians, religious leaders and activist groups.

This change comes at a time when Lebanon is going through one of the worst economic crises in more than a century. Political division has prevented the election of a new president for ten months since the departure of Michel Aoun last October. On September 2nd, Nabih Berri, the speaker of the country’s parliament, called for political blocs to break the deadlock and decide on a new president, and soon.

Despite facing a political and economic crisis, politicians and religious leaders have decided to join forces against the LGBTQ+ community. As verbal and physical attacks across the country intensify, so do politicians’ speeches and harassment of individuals.

The current toxic atmosphere in Lebanon comes at a time of intensifying repression of the LGBTQ+ community across the region. Amid angry protests over Quran burning in Europe, there have been rainbow flag burnings in Muslim-majority countries in response.

In other Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, religious leaders and politicians have blamed the LGBTQ+ community as a key part of alleged Western attacks on Islamic values. Some Iraqi lawmakers continue to push a proposal that would expand a 1988 prostitution law to include a paragraph that would impose life imprisonment or the death penalty for those who have homosexual relations.

The current situation in Lebanon and the Middle East region shows an alarming setback to the rights and safety of the LGBTQ+ community, triggering a series of verbal, legal and physical attacks that threaten their well-being and freedom.

In addition to the political situation, regional tensions have begun to influence attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community, especially in times of conflict such as the Syrian-Israeli conflict, which negatively affect marginalised groups.

Armed conflicts have endured throughout history as a constant and profound concern, impacting not only the nations directly involved, but also the global community.

These armed conflicts, marked by their complexity and devastating repercussions, represent a source of general consternation, and the presence of these conflicts raises concern and sadness, not only among the countries directly affected, but also among humanity in general, which observes with caution and seriousness the devastating effects they can have on regional stability, human rights and world peace.

GayLawyers, the Diversity & Inclusion division of Giambrone & Partners, is strongly committed to supporting and protecting the LGBTQ+ community. Our commitment goes beyond legal advice, seeking to ensure an inclusive and respectful environment for all. We invite you to approach us, trusting in our experience and dedication to support your legal rights and needs with the highest level of commitment and sensitivity.

Cynthia Cortés Castillo, Digital Marketing Executive

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