Beirut Pride canceled after organizer was detained by authorities

Outlet: Ben Aquila's blog / Editor: Unspecified / Language: English / Date of publication: 16 May 2018 / Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 14 seconds.


The organiser of a gay pride week in Lebanon's capital said authorities had forced him to cancel the events. Until now, Lebanon was more tolerant than most Arab countries, and last year became the first Arab country to hold a gay pride week.

But Hadi Damien, the organiser of this year's Beirut Pride, was asked by police officers to accompany him to police station, where he was informed that he would be detained overnight. He was forced to sign a pledge that he would cancel the upcoming events in order to be released.

Damien said he was warned that if he did not, he would be referred to an investigative judge who would interrogate him on the basis of articles pertaining to the incitement to immorality and to the breach of public morality for co-ordinating the pride week's activities.

Article 534 of Lebanon's penal code punishes "any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature" with up to one year in prison, and has been used to prosecute people suspected of homosexuality.

Last year, one hopeful ruled declared that "homosexuals have the right to have human or intimate relationships with any people they chose, without discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation".

Despite that, authorities have continued conducting raids to arrest persons allegedly involved in same-sex behaviors, some of whom were subjected to torture including forced anal examinations, according to Human Rights Watch.

Bad news from Lebanon.


BEIRUT PRIDE REMARKS:

1. Beirut Pride's events were suspended on the decision of the General Prosecutor of Beirut, independently of the agreement, consent or refusal of Hadi Damien. The decision to suspend the events was effective whether Hadi Damien was detained or release. The pledge he was asked to sign was for him to acknowledge 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.

2. There was no threat against a parade in 2017. The announcement of the 2018 march was going to take place on 15 May 2018, but the suspension of the programme put a halt to it.