“Proud Lebanon” calls for LGBT rights in Lebanon

A woman holds a gay pride flag bearing a cedar tree in the center during an anti-homophobia rally in Beirut on April 30, 2013. Lebanon has a reputation as the most liberal country in the conservative Middle East but Article 534 of the Lebanese penal code punishes "unnatural sexual intercourse" by up to one year in prison. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese organization “Proud Lebanon” is calling on lawmakers to recognize the rights of LGBT persons in the country on the anniversary of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHO).

The group will host a rally at Hotel Monroe in Beirut on May 17 to challenge the legal status of LGBT rights in Lebanon.

LGBT status in Lebanon has prompted debate because Lebanese law doesn’t necessarily forbid homosexual rights. The wording instead forbids sexual acts that “contradict the laws of nature,” which is punishable by up to a year in prison.

Lebanese judges have dismissed the article as “invalid”, according to Global Voices Online. But in January 2014, a judge ruled that the law could be valid if a “clear interpretation” of what is “unnatural” is defined.

May 17 marks the 25th anniversary since the World Health Association removed homosexuality as a disease. The “Proud Lebanon” group created a promotional video to advertise their upcoming event.

“If you don’t recognize their existence, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist,” said the video. “Protesting this injustice isn’t enough.”

The commercial features many prominent Lebanese personalities who lend their support to the LGBT cause, including TV host Fouad Yammine and film director Zeina Daccache.

A poll done by the Pew Research Center in 2007 shows that 79% of Lebanese believe “Homosexuality should be rejected”, as opposed to 18% who believe “homosexuality should be accepted”. Researchers say public opinion has changed in the past eight years, and that results would differ if the poll was done today.

WATCH the promotional video:

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