Category Archives: Lebanon – Liban

Lebanon Beirut’s First-Ever LGBT Pride Celebration (en/fr post)

Despite threats of violence, the LGBT community of Beirut, Lebanon hosted their first ever pride celebration last week, a country where homosexual acts are still considered a crime.

In a country often regarded as socially liberal compared to its Arab neighbors, conservative social values remain deeply embedded among many, with LGBTQI Lebanese facing widespread discrimination.

Most countries in the region do not tolerate an open celebration of LBGT life, with few Middle Eastern countries according rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender citizens. Many risk fines, jail and even death, with reports of social exclusion and abuse commonplace.

Turkey  hosts (or used to ) a gay pride parade in Istanbul each year and Israel holds a week of events in Tel Aviv every June.

A 2015 report by advocacy group Helem revealed that 81.2 percent of Lebanese polled disagreed that homosexuality was normal and natural.

Fears of harassment from the public and authorities remain widespread, while an article of Lebanese penal law that prohibits sexual acts that “contradict the laws of nature” have been used to prosecute members of the LGBTQI community.

But at the end of a week that — amid threats and pressure — saw events take place not just in conference halls but the streets, bars and cafes of Beirut, there are hopes that a push into the public spotlight offered by the newly launched Beirut Pride platform could further drive change.

From May 14 to 21, multiple events were held in Beirut’s cultural centers, bars, offices and outdoor venues. These events included exhibitions, talks, concerts, parties, performances and screenings. In a country where homosexual acts remain illegal, some 4,000 people attended.

A statement posted on the Beirut Pride website says, “Beirut Pride is a happy, friendly, constructive platform that invites people to express themselves, in an attempt to contribute to our liberation from the destructive hate that poisons our country and forces many fellow citizens out toward other countries that guarantee their basic rights.”

The League of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon, a Salafist group, on 14 May, used social media to voice its opposition to the NGO Proud Lebanon’s day-long series of discussions and presentations on LGBT issues and rights.

Within hours, the downtown Beirut hotel scheduled to host the event had cancelled it.

“The hotel apologised and said they couldn’t provide security for everyone,” Cosette Maalouf, Proud Lebanon’s advocacy officer, explained, adding that the venue had “received pressure from the Lebanese authorities to cancel the event”.

  • Français:

Le dimanche 21 mai, la première gay pride du monde arabe a eu lieu dans la capitale libanaise. C’est une première pour la défense des droits des LGBT au Moyen-Orient. Dimanche, à l’issue d’une semaine de festivités organisée contre la discrimination sexuelle, le Liban a accueilli la première Gay Pride du monde arabe dans le nord du pays, à Batroun.

beirut pride LEBANON

Le pays considère en effet toujours l’homosexualité comme un délit : Libération rapporte que l’article 534 du Code pénal prévoit une condamnation d’un mois à un an de prison ferme ainsi qu’une amende en cas de “relations sexuelles contre-nature”.

Le conservatisme religieux du pays limite également les manifestations. Le week-end du 13 avril dernier, un colloque organisé à Beyrouth par l’ONG Proud Lebanon (“Liban fier”) a par exemple été annulé. Les pressions des théologiens musulmans menaçant de manifester devant l’hôtel où les débats devaient se dérouler étaient trop fortes.

Mais les organisateurs de la première Gay Pride libanaise veulent souligner les avancées en matière de droits LGBT, et ont d’ailleurs expliqué à CNN que le but de l’événement était avant tout de “banaliser” l’existence de la communauté LGBT, pour aider à “transcender les étiquettes” aliénant certains individus aux identités sexuelles non-hétérosexuelles. Hadi Damien, organisateur de la journée, a ainsi raconté qu’il faisait suite à plusieurs années de travail en secret, avec des rendez-vous clandestins ou en ligne : “C’est une initiative qui vient dénoncer — de façon complètement pacifique — toutes les formes de haine et de discrimination, et nous travaillons plus spécifiquement sur l’identité sexuelle.”


Cyprus ,Israel , Lebanon and Egypt’s Natural Gas Puzzle Update: Regional risks at stake

Some Important Points:

  • Cyprus and Egypt must be very careful as a member of the EU the first and an Arab state the latter when they sign bilateral agreements with Israel. On the one hand, funds from natural gas reserves could fund further colonization and war regarding the Israelo-Palestinian conflict. Recently, Israel,has approved a further expansion of its colonial settlement enterprise in Occupied Palestine with thousands of new units to further deny the people of Palestine the right to freedom and self-determination. On the other hand, Cyprus could offer its assistance regarding the Israeli-Lebanon maritime dispute but the conflict is more deeper as these countries were involved into a war 10 years ago.
  • Turkey will always search to influence political happenings in the Near East. There is still the possibility on the table to transit the Natural Gas discoveries to Europe through a pipeline passing Turkey. Unfortunately, Turkey is an unstable country at the moment after last years’ failed-coup. The major risk is that Turkey cuts the gas suppy of this possible pipeline in order to put pressure for any political purpose.

Last year Eni discovered large offshore reserves at Zohr discovery off Egypt that could reach 850 billion cbm. The discovery of Zohr raised hopes that new reserves can be found near the island of Cyprus.

In November 2011 Turkey’s national oil company TPAO signed an accord with Shell for hydrocarbon exploration and production in the Mediterranean and southeastern Turkey.

To date, TPAO’s exploration activities have been focused on the gulf of Antalya, Iskenderun bay and Mersin bay in the eastern Mediterranean.

The American company Exxon Mobile, French Total, Italian Eni and Qatar Petroleum received contracts for studies of hydrocarbons in the waters near the island of Cyprus. Eni and Total, each with 50% share, received license to explore Block 6 in Cyprus offshore zone. The applicants selected in the third licensing round are the consortium of ENI and Total for Block 6, Eni for Block 8 and the consortium of ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum for Block 10.

cyprus oil and gas round 3
credit: Cyprus Mail

With the deal Eni has gained the right to explore an area of 2,215 sq km near the giant Zohr discovery off Egypt, which is not far from the listed blocks.

Drilling campaigns will start this year with an exploration well for Total in Block 11, which lies about six kilometres from the Zohr discovery. ENI will drill two wells in its previously acquired blocks (2, 3 and 9) and most probably in the new ones beginning of next year. ENI recently signed a farm-in agreement with Total, acquiring a 50 per cent participating interest in Block 11.

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