Beirut Pride suspended after leader detained by police
Outlet: Pink News / Editor: Josh Jackman / Language: English / Date of publication: 15 May 2018 / Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 36 seconds.
Beirut Pride events have been suspended after its founder was detained by police.
Hadi Damien, who created the festival, has now been released by authorities after being taken in yesterday for questioning in the Lebanese capital.
It is still not clear why he was detained.
A source close to Hadi told PinkNews: “There’s lots of speculation so I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. The police closed down one of the two events last night and took Hadi in for questioning. He was released about an hour and a half ago and now the rest of pride is suspended. Everyone here is waiting on the full explanation to be published.”
Beirut Pride’s Facebook page confirmed what Damien himself has told his followers, writing that he had been released and that “Beirut Pride is safe."
“The events scheduled under the label of Beirut Pride until May 20, 2018 are suspended for the time being,” the message continued.
“We thank you for your concern and empathy, and kindly ask you to refrain from speculating. We will issue a detailed statement by 9pm to explain [what is] happening. #alwaysproud #foreverstrong”
Beirut Pride was held for the first time last year, as Islamist threats failed to stop the festival – which was said to be the first in the Arab world.
More than 4,000 people attended parties, workshops, and conferences as part of the week-long event.
Damien said last year that attendance at the week-long event had “surpassed all initial expectations” despite it also suffering a forced cancellation.
The first event was cancelled due to safety concerns, after the League of Muslim Scholars condemned the event on social media.
Homosexuality is still against the law in Lebanon, and punishable by up to one year in prison.
BEIRUT PRIDE'S REMARK:
Hadi Damien was interrogated based on an Arabic version of "Beirut Pride's Programme" that stipulated that the programme was about debauchery and immorality. Despite the interrogation showing that the Arabic programme was fabricated, the General Prosecutor of Beirut decided to cancel the events that were scheduled until May 20. To be released, Hadi was asked to sign a pledge in which he acknowledges the decision of the General Prosecutor. For a full account of the detention, refer to the Statement about the Suspension of Beirut Pride Events – 14 May 2018.