What is a Pride?
It is a periodical militant event (parade, march, rally, festival, cultural program) open to the general public, produced by a Pride group, and organized to highlight people’s realities that are challenged because of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Pride is a performance of visibility, because it is through visibility that prejudice, myths and lies are deconstructed.
What is Beirut Pride?
A militant gathering where demands are expressed through speeches, communiqués, cultural and festive events. Beirut Pride is a positive stance against hate and discrimination based on sexual and gender diversity. It takes place over several days, and is based on the creative industries that reflect and communicate on the LGBTIQ+ file in Lebanon.
What does Beirut Pride do?
It draws attention to the problems faced by people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and programs a series of events and activities that bring visibility, raise awareness, deconstruct hate and prejudice, and promote social equality.
Where does it take place?
Beirut Pride takes place in several venues, mostly in Beirut, such as cultural centers, restaurants, bars, clubs.
What activities does it schedule?
Beirut Pride presents a series of multiple events such as an opening event, workshops, panels about mental health, sexual health, HIV and sexually transmitted infections, theater readings, film screenings, concerts, parties, etc. Organizations, institutions and diplomatic representations hold events about sexual and gender diversity. A march is also planned pursuant to getting the relevant city permits.
What languages are used in the activities of Beirut Pride?
Unless otherwise specified on the page of the activity, all the events of Beirut Pride are held in Arabic. Most participants are bilingual at least, and can help with translation. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have a specific request.
Who can participate in these events?
All the events of Beirut Pride are open to the public, and age restrictions apply to venues such as nightclubs. Not all who participate identify as LGBTIQ+ people, and several parents have attended former activities with their children to educate them about the different realities of people. Family members, friends, employers, employees, students and teachers attend the events. A code of conduct establishes a set of points that participants are invited to observe in order to make everybody’s participation pleasant.
I would like to participate in Beirut Pride, but I can’t afford being seen.
Unless otherwise specified, the activities of Beirut Pride are open to everyone, and people often take pictures of the event in which you may appear. To this end, we ask all participants to refrain from taking pictures and videos in which people appear without their prior approval, and to remove the pictures and videos from their phones, cameras and social media. We also ask the press to get accredited before it conducts an interview or a report in which people appear and are explicitly mentioned. This information, and much more, is mentioned in the code of conduct that establishes a set of points that participants are invited to observe in order to make everybody’s participation pleasant. In case of doubt, confusion or uncertainty, don’t hesitate to speak to event organizers and to contact us.
Is Beirut Pride legal? Does Beirut Pride have a permit?
Beirut Pride takes place in public, licensed and legal venues such as cultural centers, restaurants, bars and clubs. No activity is promoted if the venue hasn’t agreed on hosting it and hasn’t signed an agreement with Beirut Pride. No outdoor event, such as a march, will ever be publicized if relevant permits are not obtained from the city and from the competent authorities. The lawyers of Beirut Pride make sure that all entries are legal and do not conflict with the laws and regulations in force.
What happened during Beirut Pride 2018?
Beirut Pride 2018 was scheduled from 12 to 20 May. More than 2,700 people attended six events that took place between 12 and 14 May. In the evening of Monday 14 May, and while participants were arriving to the theater reading event in studio Zoukak, twelve officers representing several law enforcement agencies cracked down the event requesting the immediately stop of the evening, and interrogating Hadi Damien, the initiator of Beirut Pride. A few minutes later, two officers escorted Hadi to the vice squad police for further interrogation. After a night spent in the police station detention room, Hadi was interrogated on Tuesday 15 May by the head of the vice police in the presence of three other police officers. The police crackdown was motivated by a falsified program that was mis-attributed to Beirut Pride and that was heavily sent to numerous law enforcement officers on WhatsApp. The program was put together by homophobic people who perjured the activities of Beirut Pride, stating that the scheduled activities involved debauchery, prostitution, drug use and illicit behaviors. Even though the program was proved fake, the prosecutor of Beirut suspended the scheduled activities of Beirut Pride, then released Hadi Damien, before he initiated against him, a few weeks later, criminal proceedings for organizing events that “incite to debauchery”.
Is Beirut Pride safe? How to avoid the same scenario of 2018 ?
In preparation for the 2019 edition, Beirut Pride accentuated its meetings with officials, and held regular high-ranked encounters with religious authorities, political formations and security agencies (high profile officials in the Internal Security Forces, the General Security and the Security of the State). The aim of these meetings is to keep channels of communication open, for officials to meet the organizers of Beirut Pride, to understand what Beirut Pride stands for, to get familiar with its program, and to directly contact the organizers should any matter need to be cleared, rather than cracking down an event. These meetings seek to de-escalate any situation that might arise in case of defamation campaigns or the spread of fake news. Formal letters were sent to the Presidency of the Republic, to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, to the Ministry of Interior, to the Ministry of Justice, to the Governor of Beirut, to the Prosecutor of Beirut, to the General Prosecutor, to the Military Prosecutor, to the Internal Security Forces, to the General Security and to the Security of the State in order to inform them of the dates of Beirut Pride and of its scope. The letters also highlighted the responsibility of the security agencies in the protection of the participants of Beirut Pride. All participating groups in Beirut Pride are also invited to contact their elected representatives and the authorities, asking them to secure the State and constitutional support for the proper flow of the activities of Beirut Pride. Additionally, the code of conduct of Beirut Pride establishes a set of points that participants are invited to observe in order to make everybody’s participation pleasant and safe.
Who organizes and funds Beirut Pride?
Beirut Pride is organized by members of the creative industries in Lebanon and local NGOs. It is auto-funded.
Beirut Pride 2019
When is Beirut Pride 2019?
Beirut Pride 2019 will take place Saturday 28 September to Sunday 6 October.
While Beirut Pride took place in 2017 and in 2018 around the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, next editions are planned to take place at the end of the summer in order to accommodate a larger number of people.
What is Beirut Pride presenting?
The program of Beirut Pride 2019 is listed here.
Will there be a march in Beirut Pride 2019?
Since its debut in 2017, every edition of Beirut Pride anticipated a public march, but none ever happened yet. There was no march in 2017 due to logistics and to safety apprehensions expressed by many organizations. There was no march in 2018 due to the suspension of the activities of Beirut Pride. Contacts are ongoing with the relevant authorities to secure a permit for the march in 2019.
What would the march look like?
The march will be a group of people walking together in order to attract visibility and to draw awareness about people whose realities are challenged because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. There will be no floats, no vehicules.
Then a Beirut Pride march will not look like the big parades in Europe and in the U.S.?
No - because each event is singular. Every march is specific to the people who participate in it and to the city where it takes place. Given the excitement of the residents of Lebanon and our over-the-top parties, upcoming marches in Beirut promise to be an exaltation of joy, music and colors!
Can we speak of “Beirut Pride” if there was no march?
Yes. Protests and riots against police brutality in the face of LGBTIQ+ people have evolved into marches, which, in turn evolved into parades. Today the parade has become the biggest attraction in the program of Prides worldwide, but the parade, the march, does not reduce in itself the scheduled activities. This public performance of visibility has taken on a spectacular dimension that celebrates LGBTIQ+ accomplishments and successes while addressing the numerous challenges and discriminations that are still ongoing. It is a positive stance against hate and discrimination that brings people together for self-affirmation and empowerment.
Why does Beirut Pride want to hold a march?
The march is a public performance of visibility that builds awareness about people who are discriminated against, abused, harassed and criminalized only for their sexuality and/or gender identity. The march brings people together who voice their concerns and display their demands. It is one of the avenues on the path of bettering people’s lives.
What are the demands of Beirut Pride?
The militant demands of Beirut Pride are listed here. Add your demands by completing the form on the same page.
How can I make a difference?
Several avenues allow you to make a difference. Speak up about Beirut Pride, share its news with your friends and family, take it on social media: publish, tag, retweet, repost, comment, attend its activities and don’t hesitate to bring along your friends and relatives who have prejudice about LGBTIQ+ people. You can also be part of the organizing group as a volunteer. Volunteering positions are open on the basis of each event, but we are always looking for editors, copywriters, graphic designers, photographers and filmmakers. Contact us if you wish to contribute in this sense.
Pride, Beirut and Lebanon
How did Beirut Pride begin?
A group of people came together in August 2016 to organize and coordinate a series of events and activities that take place over several days, and that are based on the creative industries to reflect and communicate on the LGBTIQ+ file in Lebanon. The first edition of Beirut Pride took place May 14–21, 2017. It drew four thousand people who attended workshops, seminars, talks, gatherings, parties, concerts and screenings. The second edition, scheduled May 12–20, 2018 featured a brunch in the honor of the parents of LGBTIQ+ children, the announcement of the Corporate Pledge, the Beirut Grand Drag Queen Ball, as well as the launching of a podcast, the launching of a magazine, a gender-fluidity fashion show, workshops, parties, talks and performances. It was raided by the police on the night of May 14, 2018 following the dissemination of a homophobic, sensational, fabricated program that was attributed to Beirut Pride. The police arrested the organizer of Beirut Pride, and despite the interrogation proving the falsity of the accusations, the general prosecutor of Beirut ordered the suspension of the scheduled activities before initiating criminal proceedings for “incitement to debauchery”. The third edition of Beirut Pride is scheduled for 28 September - 6 October 2019.
Why does Lebanon need a Pride?
Pride reflects on social stigma and discrimination and seeks self-affirmation and empowerment. Pride is a positive, happy event that brings people together, outdoors, in music, dance and laughs, to voice concerns and display demands. A great number of people in Lebanon are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Pride festivities contribute to the betterment of people’s lives.
Is Beirut Pride a western concept brought to Lebanon?
No, Beirut Pride is not a western concept brought to Lebanon. Pride is a series of militant, artistic, cultural, sport, social, religious, political, commercial events that celebrate diversity and human beings. This approach that engages the collaboration between a great number of sectors is not new, and is not a foreign idea. The program of Beirut Pride is specific to the Lebanese realities and needs, and lists meaningful happenings brought by Lebanese creative people who reflect on our everyday life and aspirations in the Lebanese context, while keeping an eye on the rest of the world.
What challenging realities is Beirut Pride highlighting?
The LGBTIQ+ situation in Lebanon is shaky, and people could be arbitrarily detained for a simple suspicious of homosexual behavior. Fashion, such as “looking feminine” or “lacking virility” has been a reason to arrest individuals in parts of the country. As marginalization is rampant, it is crucial that basic rights and basic security be secured to avoid distressing situations. The Lebanese society displays a certain behavior often found in post-war societies: the other (whether an LGBTIQ+ person, a refugee, or someone from a different social/religious background) is often frowned upon, and is considered a foreigner who would jeopardize the essence of society. Some people reject initiatives similar to Beirut Pride because they believe they “encourage people to become gay”, an absolute absurdity that highlights prejudice. Social taboos and misinterpretations of religious literature negatively condition people; a conditioning that media depictions enhance when they convey a mocking, stereotyped representation of LGBTIQ+ people in comedy and talk shows, in order to boost their ratings at the expense of people's dignity. While no text of law mentions homosexuality or consensual intercourse between adults in a place not open to the public, Article 534 from the Penal Code that mentions “unnatural intercourse” is interpreted by judges to criminalize homosexual intercourse. It is during detention that some practices are sordid and LGBTIQ+ are abused by law enforcement officers. Overall, LGBTIQ+ individuals are often bullied, harassed, humiliated and assaulted. Upper social ranks often secure protection, opportunities and a support system, while people with less resources are often confined to “closed” environments, which makes it difficult to live, and in most cases leads to a double life, to develop mental and health problems. When Beirut Pride spreads a positive, affirmative word, it widens the space of hope for everybody.
Is there a national mood to speak about the topic?
According to a recent study, a great percentage of the Lebanese society opposes violence and legal discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people. The majority of people is silent, and refrains from making public positions avoiding being associated to homosexuality because of some negative conditioning. This leaves all the space to those who voice hate and discrimination, which makes them appear as the predominant national voice. Therefore, speaking up and voicing a non-discrimination attitude is crucial. Next comes the importance of reading and educating oneself on the LGBTIQ+ realities, so it would be possible to engage in a healthy, articulate conversation. Anyone could act. Every voice matters.
The residents of Lebanon, from the city to the mountains, have access to the TV cable and to the Internet. They are aware of what happens in the world, and they are conscious that they interact with LGBTIQ+ people around them. Using the negation “Lebanese society is not ready” is an excuse for not assuming one’s responsibility when it comes to the decriminalization of consensual same-sex intercourse that is performed between adults in a place that is not accessible to the public. Tackling pending issues breaks the wall of disinformation, stereotypes and labels, and proves that improving the reality of a group of citizens uplifts the whole society.
How matters have evolved in this sense?
Beirut Pride works for the full decriminalization of homosexuality, which means dissociating intercourse between consenting adults performed in a space not open to the public from punitive texts and their interpretations. Decriminalization stretches beyond the law and concerns police officers’ awareness and education.
Eight judiciary decisions have been taken so far in favor of the decriminalization, with magistrates acquitting individuals brought before them on the grounds of Article 534 and its manifold interpretations. The first ruling was issued on 2 December 2009 by judge Mounir Sleiman in Batroun. It concerned two young men, arrested in a car, even though they were not engaging in a sexual act. The second judgement was ruled on 28 January 2014 by Magistrate Naji al-Dahdah in Metn. He did not criminalize a transgender woman who admitted to having sex with men, and who was prosecuted on the basis of Article 534. On 5 May 2016, Judge Hisham Qantar issued a ruling that halted the investigation of a Syrian citizen, arrested for wearing women’s clothing, given his feminine leanings since childhood. On 26 January 2017, Judge Rabih Maalouf ruled that homosexuality was not a crime, only for prosecutors to appeal his decision. On 12 July 2018, the Court of Criminal Appeal in Mount Lebanon confirmed his verdict that consensual sex between people of the same sex is not unlawful. It was the first time that a higher court ruled against the criminalization of homosexuality. On 14 November 2018, the Court of Appeal in Beirut refused to prosecute three men for homosexuality. On 23 November 2018, a court in Beirut issued a ruling about an armed robbery of two gay men without prosecuting them based on Article 534. On 31 March 2019, military prosecutor Judge Peter Germanos refused to initiate criminal proceedings against four soldiers who were brought to him on the grounds of homosexual conduct.
While people used to be interrogated for homosexuality on the simple ground of their fashion look, their feminine gesture or on the ground of an information that police officers receive, such practices have become less rampant. Prosecutors have started to refuse initiating criminal proceedings for homosexuality, and judges of lower and higher courts have acquited individuals. Many other rulings were made in this sense, but the concerned parties did not wish to make their case public. However, power abuse still exists, the right of association is constantly challenged, LGBTIQ+ events are disrupted, and hate-speech is ongoing. – But the future is bright: both hope and love will soon prevail.