Lebanese 'freedom march' attacked by anti-LGBTQ+ assailants

Lebanese 'freedom march' attacked by anti-LGBTQ+ assailants
Assailants were screaming homophobic slurs while attacking journalists and activists.
3 min read
02 October, 2023
Activists have said that violence against LGBTQ+ individuals in Lebanon has mirrored officials' rhetoric. [Getty]

On Saturday, 30 September, a march for "the protection of freedoms" in downtown Beirut was attacked by unknown assailants shouting homophobic slurs, leaving at least three injured.

Men hurled stones and kicked protesters, one of whom could be seen with blood running down his face.

The Committee to Protect Journalists put out a statement on Monday, calling for Lebanese authorities to protect journalists who were injured during their coverage of the protests.

The attack came amidst a greater wave of hate speech and violence against LGBTQ+ individuals in Lebanon over the past few months.

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Cloud 59, a beach bar in the southern city of Tyre, was also attacked by unknown men on Saturday evening as the establishment celebrated its 20th anniversary.

The city is mainly controlled by the Amal movement, a party led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. The city also has a small historic Christian minority and is known for its beach tourism.

The men, armed with AK-47s, knives and sticks, shot in the air and attacked the venue after they were denied entry for being too intoxicated, the bar owner, Dalia Farran, told The New Arab.

Farran managed to eject the assailants after shaming them and telling them that she "recognised their faces behind their masks."

Afterwards, the assailants claimed the party was being thrown in honour of LGBTQ+ individuals as a justification for the attack, doctoring footage and inserting rainbow flags into the video of the attack.

"A fabricated video started to disseminate on some media outlets saying that some decent guys wanted to stop an indecent party. While, in fact, a gang of intoxicated men with weapons and masks tried to intimidate us and failed," Farran said.

Escalating assaults

In late August, an LGBTQ+ friendly bar was attacked by the Christian fundamentalist group "Soldiers of God," who trapped patrons inside and accused them of being Satanists.

Activists have said that the violence seen by radical groups echoes the rhetoric of Lebanese politicians and religious officials.

In late July, the head of the pro-Iran group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, called for LGBTQ+ people to be killed and said that their presence was a danger to Lebanese society.

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Two members of parliament put forth two separate bills to explicitly criminalise same-sex relations between consenting adults and the "promotion of homosexuality," which would be punishable with up to three years in prison.

The Minister of Culture also attempted to block the screening of the Barbie movie, saying it promoted homosexuality and transgenderism.

Civil society activists have said the attacks on Lebanon's LGBTQ+ community are an attempt to distract from authorities' failures to address the country's worsening economic crisis.

"As Lebanon sinks deeper into crisis, the authorities are cracking down on the rights of LGBTI people and allowing unchecked violence against them," Rasha Younes, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said on 5 September.