Lebanon Shura Council suspends minister's decision to ban LGBT+ gatherings

Lebanon Shura Council suspends minister's decision to ban LGBT+ gatherings
Lebanon's high administrative court has ruled against a decision made by the interior minister earlier this year to ban LGBT+ gatherings and events.
2 min read
15 November, 2022
Mawlawi's decision in June caused widespread anger and condemnation [Getty/archive]

Lebanon’s highest administrative court, the State Shura Council, has suspended the implementation of a decision earlier this year to ban LGBT+ gatherings in the country.

Interior Minister Bassam al-Mawlawi, a Sunni Muslim, had instructed the Internal Security Forces to "immediately take necessary measures to prevent any type of celebration, meeting or gathering" by the LGBT+ community in June. 

His decision came in response to pressure from religious institutions, particularly the country’s highest Sunni Muslim authority, Dar al-Fatwa. 

The move sparked widespread anger and condemnation from many but was applauded by others.

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The Shura Council’s move to overturn the decision comes after appeals filed in August by Beirut-based non-profit groups Helem, which advocates for LGBT+ rights, and The Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organisation.

According to the council’s decision, security forces will have no legal or constitutional basis to ban or break up any such gatherings.

Helem said in a statement that the suspension of the ban was "a positive step toward protecting marginalised communities in Lebanon," but added that it is a temporary suspension, valid only until the Council issues its final ruling. 

Helem said the joint appeal with The Legal Agenda "challenged the minister’s decision on the grounds of infringing constitutional rights and inciting violence and hatred against marginalised communities, which should be protected by the State".

"This step strengthened the legal position of LGBTQ people in Lebanon," Helem added.

Members of the LGBT+ community enjoy more freedom in Lebanon than in other Arab countries, but still lack equal rights and often face harassment.