Lebanon’s gay pride week brought to halt after crackdown

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s beleaguered gay pride week was canceled a couple of days into the celebrations after its organizer was briefly detained, he and his lawyer said Tuesday.

Lebanon became the first Arab country to celebrate gay pride last year. Homosexuality is illegal in most countries in the region, punishable under a number of vaguely worded laws that often cite debauchery or public decency.

The gay, lesbian, and transgender community is largely shunned and often persecuted in widely publicized and humiliating mass arrests.


In Lebanon, however, the community has enjoyed a margin of freedom. Activists have been vocally campaigning against laws that criminalize homosexuality and public immorality.

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Organizer Hadi Damien said that he was detained overnight for organizing Beirut Pride week, which began Saturday, allegedly following complaints from critics.

Damien said authorities first tried to halt a theater reading Monday night at a small studio, complaining it was not approved by the censorship authorities. Damien was then summoned by the police and questioned over the week’s events, which included a street party, a drag show, legal workshops, concert, and poetry readings.