Saturday, May 22, 2010

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Lebanon: Calling for Secularism & Gay Rights

Thousands of brave secularists marched in Beirut, on the 25th of last month, rallying for a secular government in Lebanon and the abolition of political sectarianism. Those courageous men and women proved to the world that even in a region such as the Middle-East, in which freedom of expression is conditional, it is possible to trespass this red-line drawn by our pseudo-democratic governments.

Another group of activists, the Lebanese homosexual pride, Helem (arabic for “Dream”), organized an event last Monday to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), under the title “I am queer”.  One of the main goals of this demonstration was the abolishment of article ‘534’ of the Lebanese penal code ‘534’, punishing “sexual intercourse contrary to nature” (visit this link for a complete list of goals set by Helem). This is not the first protest by this group, in which they try to pressure the parliament to eliminate discrimination against homosexuals. The first public protest took place in February 2009 (see video below), which came as a shock to many Lebanese citizens. This first event was launched as a protest against the violent beatings of two gay men (violent assaults on homosexuals have been taking place for a long time in Lebanon; beatings by policemen were also reported on a couple occasions). This, however, did not stop the dedicated activists from rallying again; surely, they will not rest until both the government and the public condemn such injustice.

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