On April 21st, four people were arrested, in Dekwaneh, for being homosexual. Three men and one transwoman were detained on the order of the mayor of Dekwaneh, Antoine Shakhtoura, due to their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Shakhtoura´s decision has been strongly condemned by supporters and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
According to a press release by the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) the detained were subjected to verbal, physical and sexual abuse. They also pointed out that discrimination and homophobia lead to psychological problems for people in the LGBT community, such as depression, suicidal ideation and attempts and post traumatic stress disorder. Further more, the statement read:
“The negative impact of this abuse extends beyond the individuals who were arrested. The abuse represents a threatening message sent to all LGBT individuals in Lebanon where many will fear becoming the next victim. Fear of persecution impacts one´s mental health negatively, especially in a country that still criminalizes “unnatural sexual acts” under Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code.”
The minister of Interior commented on the arrest, saying: “Lebanon is against perversion, which is considered a crime according to Lebanese law.”
LebMASH called on the appropriate authorities to launch an immediate investigation of the events of April 21st and for those who perpetuated the abuse to be held accountable for their actions. They also called on the parliament to get rid off Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code.