Aid for Lebanon’s LGBTQ victims of deadly explosion

With help from international supporters, Lebanon’s premier LGBTQ advocacy group, Helem, and other gay-friendly Lebanese groups have recovered from the deadly explosion of Aug. 4 and are assisting LGBTQ community members devastated by the blast.

Photo shows damage outside the Helem headquarters soon after the Aug. 4 explosion. (Photo courtesy of Helem)

As Pink News reported last week:

“The offices of Lebanon’s oldest LGBT+ advocacy group were almost destroyed in the devastating Beirut blast, but staff are already back providing vital support to the queer community. …

“The Helem offices are located in Mar Mikhael, one of the city’s two queer neighbourhoods alongside Gemmayze. Both neighbourhoods were less that a mile from the centre of the blast.

Many of the buildings in the queer hub of the city were reduced to rubble, and the Helem offices were severely damaged, although luckily, none of the advocacy group’s staff were in the office at the time.”

The blast killed at least 180 people, injured 6,000 and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless. It was caused by the detonation of 2,750 tons of confiscated ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures.

Beirut explosion of Aug. 4, 2020.

Helem’s community center was severely damaged. appeared to be in ruins.

Helem announced on Aug. 11: “Immediately the day after the explosion, dozens of volunteers came to Helem to help us clear out the debris and save what we could of our center. It is thanks to them that we are able to resume basic functions. Our services and emergency response are still working remotely.”

Staff and volunteers soon resumed supporting community kitchens and dispensing emergency aid.

Helem is working to rebuild the LGBTIQ community center, while also struggling to support countless LGBTIQ people who have been affected by the explosion. Helem’s staff and volunteers are also engaging in city-wide relief efforts, but need additional resources.

Donations to support Helem’s work can be contributed via OutRight Action International. Support for other LGBTQ Lebanese groups can be contributed through GoFundMe.

100% of all funds raised by Outright will be passed on to Helem to use for the support of the LGBTIQ community in Lebanon, the center’s relief efforts, and any other urgent needs on the ground resulting from this catastrophe.

The alternative GoFundMe campaign will benefit

(News briefs from UNAIDS’ Equal Eyes were incorporated into this article.)

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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