Christian extremists destroy LGBT monument in east Beirut amid rise in homophobia
Christian extremists have torn down a flower monument depicting the rainbow flag in east Beirut, as Lebanon experiences a wave of homophobic and transphobic incidents.
In a video published by “Soldiers of God” on facebook, one individual shouts to the camera “This neighbourhood has churches in it, and you dare put up the gay flag? You have the devil inside you.”
The flower flag was designed by members of the community who, according to the video, were given permission by the city’s authorities to construct the flag in solidarity with the LGBT community in Beirut.
“There will be no Satan in Achrafieh - this neighbourhood is for the soldiers of God” shouted another member of the group, who quoted verses from the Bible as they tore down the installation.
مجموعة من المتطرفين يطلقون التهديدات ويبثون الكراهية ضد مجتمع الميم عين ويحطمون حديقة معلقة من الورود في الأشرفية. pic.twitter.com/ozgXO3r5Y1— ضوميط القزي دريبي (@Doumit_Azzi) June 24, 2022
On Friday, the Lebanese Minister of Interior added his voice to recent calls from religious authorities to condemn all public activities relating to the LGBT community.
In an open letter, Bassam Mawlawi claimed that “sexual perversion” was spreading in Lebanese society in contradiction to Lebanese customs.
According to Helem, a rights group that advocates for the LGBT community, “the letter was accompanied by extensive homophobic and transphobic hate speech on conservative print media and on social media”, as well as similar statements from religious leaders.
Helem accused political and religious elites of stirring up hatred and “moral sexual panic” as a distraction from Lebanon’s economic and political problems.
“Regimes and institutions who have failed in providing justice, safety and security for their people often rely on attacking and sacrificing marginalised communities to distract the public from their failures and corruption” said Helem in a statement published on Saturday.
Activists and allies of the LGBT community in Lebanon are meeting to protest the minister’s letter on Sunday, outside the interior ministry in Beirut.