Beirut bar attacked in targeted assault on LGBTQ+ community

Beirut bar attacked in targeted assault on LGBTQ+ community


25 August, 2023

Several people were injured after members of an extremist Christian militia attacked an LGBTQ-friendly bar in Beirut on Wednesday night.

Om Bar Room, located in Beirut's Mar Mikhael neighbourhood, was hosting a drag show when men from "Jnoud el Rab" ("Soldiers of God") surrounded the venue and started intimidating and assaulting some patrons.

Videos that went viral on social media show people being inside while militia members yelled that the bar was "satanic" and "promoting homosexuality". The attack lasted more than an hour, and several people were injured by militia members.

LGBTQ+ group Helem subsequently put a call out on social media on Thursday encouraging anyone who was there to take pictures of their injuries as part of a plan to take Jnoud El Rab to court.

The Soldiers of God are a small Christian militia founded in the Achrafieh neighbourhood of Beirut. The group started as a neighbourhood patrol but soon began attacking LGBTQ+ installations across Beirut, styling themselves as so-called "moral protectors" of Lebanon.

Human rights activists said Wednesday's attack was just the latest escalation in a rising wave of hate speech and violence directed towards the LGBTQ+ community in Lebanon that started over a year ago. While the country criminalises same-sex relations, law enforcement around it is lax and the community is offered no legal protections.

Meanwhile, Beirut has long been home to a thriving LGBTQ+ community and cultural scene. 

Produced by Alexander Durie