May 082013
Liban - les homosexuels encore loin d'être tolérés

Rami, Marwan and Ahmad, three Lebanese homosexuals, live every day in fear, stigma and discrimination in their society. They say don't ask that to "go in a box without fear of being put by the police".

In the Lebanon, reputed to be one of the most liberal countries in a conservative Middle East, homosexuals are less persecuted elsewhere in the region but remain ostracized by society except in wealthy circles of the capital.

"If you want to be gay at the Lebanon, you have interest to be powerful and famous as Yves Saint Laurent", told AFP Marwan, businessman of forty years.

He said campaigning for the repeal of article 534 of the Lebanese penal code, according to which sexual relations "against nature" are illegal, with a penalty up to one year in prison.

Time where gay marriage comes to be legalized in France, the Lebanon homosexuals claim to be in a "years light" this procedure. But, asks the author of the blog "gayinbeirut", "can we not at least decriminalize homosexuality?"

"At work, if it is known that you are gay or lesbian, you make fire without having the right to protest" says Ahmad, a member of Helem, an NGO based in Beirut and the only one in the Arab world for the protection of homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals.

Homosexuals in the Lebanon are often quips, in society as in television.

Also, they are low profile and attempt to live their love in theaters cinema and especially nightclubs homophiles. But even there, they are not protected from raids, often brutal, security forces.

L ’ penalized love

On 21 April, the police did burst into a bar frequented by transvestites in Dekwene, a suburb East of the Lebanese capital.

"The police have beaten and arrested several youths," said Rami, who was present. "All we want is to go to parties like the others". Some have been undressed and took photo at the police station, ensure the activists. Then, inhabitants of the area have hung signs in support of the police raid.

This week, dozens of homosexuals have dared manifest before the courthouse to protest the incident.

"The law is used in an arbitrary manner and by police officers seeking a bribe often", said Marwan.

It tells "received after 12 stabbing. My attackers wanted to steal my car. As they knew that I was gay, they were certain that the police would not defend me".

"How can they penalize people love? They live their lives and that they let us live ours,"railed Alexandre, a dancer of 31 years.

The position of the Mayor of Dekwene reflects the ambivalent approach to the Lebanese society towards the gay community. "I am modern spirit, I have nothing against gays, everyone is free", says the AFP Antoine Chakhtoura. "But society sometimes rejects these things there."

In addition to the police raids, the most maligned practice is the anal "test" for the men suspected of being homosexual.

In July 2012, in a gay cinema in a popular district of Beirut, 36 men had been arrested and forced to undergo humiliating tests at the police station, on the pretext of establishing their sexual orientation.

This "test of shame" has been denounced by Human Rights Watch (HRW) who asked the Lebanese authorities to put an end to this practice.

But despite these obstacles, some hope.

"In ten years, things have changed, one can speak of the subject, there is more awareness and media no longer use the word 'perverse' (Arabic) to denote a homosexual", welcomed Ahmad.

In Lebanon, homosexuals still tolerated far - RTL info

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