Claiming rights for LGBTI people

Proud Lebanon logo

Proud Lebanon is a non-profit, non-denominational, non-political and non-partisan organization with the goal of fostering a long term socio-economic development in Lebanon. This organization protects, supports and claims rights for marginalized groups as community service activities. Amongst the most marginalized groups in Lebanon are the LGBTI community and the refugees (including Syrians, Palestinians and Iraqi people). Since 2015, the organization is supported by AEDH.

In Lebanon, the LGBTI community is especially vulnerable. These people are seldom protected and are victims of discrimination because of their sexual orientation. According to Article 534 of the Penal Code stating that “all acts going against nature shall be punishable by a term of imprisonment, the maximum being no less than one year”, they can be legally prosecuted for consensual homosexual acts between adults. This article is vague and is still used to punish the LGBTI community in the whole country.

Furthermore, refugees must comply with the law regulating temporary or long-term stays of foreigners on Lebanese territory. Lebanon has not signed the Geneva Conventions relating to refugees’ status agreed upon in 1951, therefore authorities regard them as illegal migrants.

Proud Lebanon’s goal is to integrate these marginalized groups into society. As such, the organization provides support at different levels: legal counselling, consultations not only in its centre and also in jail, psychological assistance for trauma victims (that happened during their detention and/or because of their marginalization), medical care and providing free testing.

Victims are given the opportunity to speak out, for example by means of support groups for HIV-positive people and advocacy activities.

These actions take place with the organization of training and awareness sessions aimed at strengthening the protection of vulnerable groups at the legal, social and physical levels.  Training topics are chosen in a participatory manner at bimonthly meetings. Sessions are prepared according to the expressed needs. Subsequently, a follow-up is carried out with the participants, in order to help with the adoption of acquired training, as well as changes in behaviours. 

In 2017, nearly 1000 people benefited from the support of Proud Lebanon. Lately, some activities have also been taking place in Tripoli and Zahlé. Considering the very conservative reputation of these cities, it is a big step. Even so, threats remain. The safety of the participants is still threatened. In this situation, Proud Lebanon must act with constant vigilance, which means it is forced to organize activities at undisclosed locations.

Bertho Makso

 

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