Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In solidarity with the Beirut Pride Week, the blog wears the rainbow colors

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In solidarity with the Beirut Pride Week, partly canceled after threats were made by a radical group calling itself Hay2at 3oulama2 el-Muslimeen, the blog proudly wears the rainbow colors. And I invite all my fellow Lebanese bloggers to do the same.

As part of the Beirut Pride Week, the Non-Profit Organization Proud Lebanon “wished to host an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia event, attended by journalists, artists and doctors. However, organizers said they had to cancel the event due to security issues”, Gay Star News reported.

Hay2at 3oulama2 el-Muslimeen – in English: “the association of Muslim scholars” – asked the government to ban the event it considered a “crime against virtue”. “If the authorities do not live up to their role, they will have to face the consequences”, the radical group reportedly threatened.

Even if the main conference was canceled, fringe events are still taking place in different parts of the Lebanese capital.

Homophobia is sadly mainstream in Lebanon and homosexuality is considered a crime, based on Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code: “any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature is punishable by up to one year in prison.”

But it doesn’t say what “contrary to the order of nature” actually means. If “sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature” means not using sexual organs the way they ought to be used for reproduction, one can easily argue that heterosexual intercourse can, in many ways, fit that description!

On the other hand, Article 183 of the same penal code states that “an act undertaken in exercise of a right without abuse shall not be regarded as an offense.” In other words: there’s nothing unlawful about sex between consenting adults, gay or straight.

Furthermore, discrimination based on one’s sexual orientations is in flagrant contradiction with Article 7 of the Lebanese Constitution: “All Lebanese shall be equal before the law. They shall equally enjoy civil and political rights and shall equally be bound by public obligations and duties without any distinction.”

“Without ANY distinction”, which means that discrimination against a man or a woman based on his or her sexual orientation is unconstitutional.

The next parliament will need to address this issue, after the long awaited elections are finally held. Obviously, conservative MPs will resist the change but with the right support and pressure from the civil society, a majority could be achieved and Article 534 removed from the Lebanese Penal Code.

In any case, by not taking action against those who made threats and not firmly standing with the Lebanese who were threatened, the government failed in its main mission: protect the freedom of its citizens.

If any radical group can make threats and thus manages to cancel any event that displeases it, Lebanon can no longer call itself a free society, let alone a law-abiding state.

© Claude El Khal, 2017