Amid celebrations of Pride Month by the LGBTQ community, Lebanon's outgoing Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi sent a letter on Friday to the General Directorate of General Security and the General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) calling on security forces to prevent gatherings that "promote homosexuality."
"After the dissemination on social networks of calls for the organization of celebrations aimed at promoting unnatural sexual relations in Lebanon, after the ministry was contacted by religious leaders who reject this phenomenon, and in view of the negative impact this can have on the individual and society (...) you are asked to take the necessary measures to prevent the holding of any celebration, meeting or gathering whose purpose is to promote this phenomenon."
The Minister also asserted that "freedom of expression cannot be invoked in this case, since it is a violation of the habits and traditions of our society, contrary to the principles of monotheistic religions."
Lebanon's top Sunni religious figure, Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian said that Dar Al-Fatwa (the highest Sunni authority in Lebanon) "would not allow the legalization of homosexuality or civil marriage."
Meanwhile, a Christian group calling itself the "Soldiers of God" posted a video of its members tearing apart a billboard in which the LGBTQ rainbow flag was formed with flowers in Ashrafieh.
The Interior Ministry's decision drew criticism on social networks.
What does a state ruled by warlords do when its citizens crumble under the weight of poverty and uncertainty? It demonizes a vulnerable group and invents a crusade for diversion. Medieval! https://t.co/rlfkvOrj7c— Mona Fawaz (@mona_fawaz) June 24, 2022
Attorney and head of the Legal Agenda Nizar Saghieh pointed out that after, in 2018, General Security had halted the holding of a regional conference in Lebanon discussing LGBTQ rights, the State Shura Council, the country's highest administrative court, had ruled in 2021 that the actions constituted an infringement on freedom of expression.
Walt Disney's new Pixar movie, "Lightyear," was just banned in Lebanon due to a same-sex kiss, joining at least 14 countries in the Middle East and Asia with this decision to ban the film.
Article 534 from the Lebanese penal code, which prohibits having sexual relations that “contradict the laws of nature," has been used to prosecute people for same-sex relations, although in recent years, courts have held that it does not apply to same-sex acts practiced in private between consenting adults.