“People Fear What They Don’t Understand”… The Systematic Repression of Queer People in Lebanon

What does it mean to exist in public and private space with our own free thoughts, inclinations, and expressions, without society and its laws forcing us to follow normative patterns in gender existence? Zahraa, my friend, wondered out loud during a private conversation between the two of us, adding: If society had not forced us to all this, would we have perhaps really known the true meaning of love — and what it means to love freely? Would we have been able to exist within our own complete selves? Ever since, her question has haunted me and occupied a large portion of my mind.

Lebanon has always appeared progressive. The scene showing LGBTQ+ people organizing public and festive events in the capital Beirut at a high pace, can easily deceive and produce the illusion that a non-normative person can live a carefree life. But in reality, this country is just like any other, and despite the appearance of queer individuals in the media, Lebanon is not a safe haven for them as long as gendered discipline[1] and the inevitability of heterosexuality are what rules the game, with full support from the law.

Lebanon inherited its legal system from the French Mandate, and to this day, many of the ‘inherited’ legal articles are used to punish and legally prosecute members of the LGBTQ+ community in Lebanon. The most famous of these articles is Article 534 of the Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment of up to one year for a person who engages in sexual relations that are “contradicting of the laws of nature”, meaning that it supports the idea of ​​the existence of homosexual and heterosexual sex.

English | June 20, 2021



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