Lebanon intelligence attempted to close LGBT conference: HRW

Lebanon intelligence attempted to close LGBT conference: HRW
Lebanon's General Security attempted to shut down an annual LGBT conference in Beirut last month, according to Human Rights Watch.
2 min read
04 October, 2018
Lebanon's General Security allegedly attempted to shut down the annual NEDWA conference [AFP]

Lebanese intelligence services unlawfully attempted to close a conference on the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people last month in Beirut, according to Human Rights Watch.

The rights watchdog said its own staff were among the NEDWA conference's participants.

General Security, which is an intelligence branch of Lebanon's security forces, allegedly arrived at the hotel where the conference was held on its third day to question the Arab Foundation For Freedoms and Equality's director Georges Azzi.

Azzi was reportedly instructed to cancel the conference and sign a pledge stating that he would cease activities related to the gathering. Faced with Azzi's refusal, the officers then ordered for the conference to be closed down, according to HRW.

"General Security's latest efforts to shut down an LGBT conference in Lebanon is an attack on freedom of assembly rights and an attempt to silence the voices of courageous activists," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

"Trying to intimidate NEDWA organisers and activists working in challenging circumstances throughout the Middle East and North Africa violates Lebanon's obligations under international law".

HRW said that General Security officers also gathered information on the conference organisers from the hotel registry. Many of those whose details were taken down by the intelligence services were from countries where LGBT individuals have been persecuted, including Iraq and Egypt.

There has been no official explanation about why the conference was targeted by security forces, however, HRW has highlighted that the move followed public statements by Lebanon's Muslim Scholars Association accusing NEDWA of promoting homosexuality and drug abuse.

The sholars association called for the arrest of NEDWA's organisers due to their "incitement to immorality".