Lebanese police arrest Gay Pride organizer; events canceled

Lebanon’s Gay Pride Week began as scheduled on Saturday, but was shut down after  organizer Hadi Damien was arrested and held overnight.

Associated Press reported:

Beirut-Pride-logo-V

BEIRUT — The organizer of Lebanon’s beleaguered gay pride week has been briefly detained days into the celebrations and the rest of the festival’s events cancelled.

Hadi Damien told The Associated Press Tuesday that he was held overnight over Beirut Pride week, which began Saturday, allegedly following complaints from critics.

Damien’s lawyer, Layal Saqr, said her client was interrogated over allegedly encouraging debauchery and offending public decency.

Damien was released after signing a pledge to call off the rest of the week’s events, which included a street party and poetry readings.

Saqr said the detention sent “a warning.”

Lebanon became the first Arab country to celebrate gay pride last year. Some events were also cancelled last year but no one was arrested.

Homosexuality is still punishable by law in Lebanon.

[Editor’s note: But a lower-court judge in Lebanon has blocked enforcement of that law, ruling that homosexuality is not “unnatural,” so is not covered by the law’s prohibition of  sex acts “contrary to the order of nature.”]

“Kick-Ass Queereeoke” was one of the scheduled Beirut Pride events that was canceled.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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