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Report: Lebanon targets gay men in 3 raids, 45 arrests

Report: Lebanon targets gay men in 3 raids, 45 arrests

Journalist Dan Littauer reports on a wave of Lebanese police raids targeting gay men, starting with the Aug. 9 arrest of 27 men at the Agha Hammam Turkish bath in Beirut (reported here Aug. 13). Further raids reportedly occurred on Aug. 14, with 18 men arrested at two locations. Excerpts from Littauer’s account, starting with the current status of the 27 original arrestees:

Promotional photo for Agha Hamman.
Promotional photo for Agha Hamman.
Six have been released on Thursday [Aug. 14] while the 21 others have been transferred to Zahle’s prison. … 16 of the detainees asked Helem, Lebanon’s LGBTQI advocacy organisation, for legal help and can only be released with the payment of a substantial bail, to which the organisation is calling for donations.
On Thursday a further raid occurred in the morning on Sheherazade Hammam [Turkish bath] in the Burj Hammoud neighbourhood of Beirut, before it opened its doors to the public, with one employee being arrested.
Promotional photo of Agha Hamman.
Promotional photo of Agha Hamman.
In addition there have been unconfirmed reports of further raid on a private home in the northern city of Tripoli, where gay men were meeting, with 17 people arrested also on Thursday.
Hbeish [police station] personnel investigated the detainees and their files have now been transferred to the General Prosecutor, Bilal Dinnawi, awaiting charges.
Dinnawi informed the five organizations “that overall the General Prosecution is not interested in charging the detainees with [“having unnatural sex”], article 534. However, in this particular case Dinawi confirmed that he might charge the detainees under public indecency (article 521).”
The general prosecutor stated that no anal tests were done because the men “confessed” but he also mentioned that he could have had these carried out “if he wanted to.”
The coalition of five advocacy groups called upon the General Prosecutor and Hbeish police station to respect the dignity of the detainees and expressed concern over the possibility that anal-probe tests were used, which were previously slammed by international rights organizations as a form of torture.
Dr. Hasan Abdessamad, president of the [Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health, said] …:

“The men who frequent such spaces are usually working class or poor and can not afford going to a hotel or much less have a holiday home, or pay a substantial bail. They are often not out and the police has now put their lives at risk because their families and communities will be informed, and are usually not very tolerant of gays.
“Why are authorities targeting poor gay men, if this was a campaign about ‘public decency’ why were only these establishments selected?”

Joseph Aoun, a Lebanese LGBTI rights activists, told me: “Our state is trying to do imaginary victories facing their failure on other levels. They are ready to target minorities and gay people as they are a catchy subject.” …
The Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor has started a hashtag #HammamRaid and #NoMoreRaids twitter campaign, inviting people to use them in protest and in order to raise awareness.
For more information, read the full article in Huffington Post: “Lebanon Launches Police Raids Targeting Gay Men.”

View Comment (1)
  • “Journalist Dan Littauer reports on … ”
    I find it hard to believe anything written by Dan Littauer.
    In the never-ending crusade by the LGBT media to find issues to be angry about, Littauer wrote an article in which he put a deceitful spin on remarks made by the Zambian Vice-President. Further, he made a baseless, exaggerated statement on the attitude of Zambians to homosexuality.
    The Zambian VP was in Scotland in July. Responding to a question by a reporter regarding concerns over lack of LGBT rights in Zambia, Littauer quotes the VP thus:
    “Scotland introduced gay marriage last week, so therefore Zambia must suddenly? You weren’t complaining about it two weeks ago but now Zambia has to follow suit? It’s not right! It’s an unreasonable expectation. … Zambians care more about poverty, they care more about disease and care more about their children’s education, and that’s what we’re going to concentrate on.”
    Littauer distorts that into a “rebuke to”, and a “rejection of”, “the Scottish government’s support and call for LGBTI equality” in Scotland and other countries generally. In truth, there was no rejection of LGBT rights by the Zambian VP; he said simply that there are other, more pressing problems (such as health issues) which must be given priority in order to benefit a far larger section of the population than the small LGBT minority.
    In the same article, Littauer again spins deceitfully when he writes of a PEW report, allegedly published in April-2010:
    “A recent survey revealed that 98% of Zambians find homosexuality to be morally unacceptable”.
    The report cannot be found on the PEW website. If the survey was ever done in Zambia, then the simple question asked would have been the one always asked in such surveys:
    “Should homosexuality be accepted by society?”
    Let’s believe for the moment that 98% replied “No”. How on earth can Littauer distort that into “98% of Zambians find homosexuality to be morally unacceptable”?
    The real flaw in Littauer’s spin is that the question asked by PEW is not useful in finding out the attitude to homosexuality within a country, because it does not define what is meant by “accept” or “homosexuality”. For example, if people believe that homosexuality means that same-sex marriages should be allowed then they will answer “No”, even if they believe that consensual, same-sex acts should not be criminal offences, and so are (in fact) morally acceptable.
    Take anything written by Dan Littauer with a pinch or two of salt.
    (1), published ~30-July-2014. No criticism of the article was allowed, despite an invitation from the publisher to post any.

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