BEIRUT — A heated argument took place between Lebanese ambassador Rami Adwan and Lebanese activists in France, after the latter put up rainbow-colored posters, the symbol of the LGBTQ community, on the walls of the Lebanese Embassy in France on Monday night, prompting the ambassador to face the activists, according to a video of the incident that is circulating on social media.
When the activists accused Adwan of representing the Lebanese political class, as heard in the video, the ambassador said in response that this claim is “false” and that the embassy represents the Lebanese, including the activists. "You are wrong when you think that the embassy represents the ruling class and not you, young man,” said the ambassador, addressing an activist.
And when an activist then asked him to denounce the various attacks that have taken place in Lebanon in recent days, against the LGBTQ+ community, Adwan replied that the Lebanese Embassy does not have to express itself on whether it is for or against them.
Then the situation escalated when the ambassador accused an activist of "spoiling" the embassy by sticking up flyers on its walls. Adwan then said, “You are a rotten man, you don't know how to talk to people.”
Adwan explained to L’Orient-Le Jour on Tuesday that “it is the refusal to dialogue that offended” him, adding that “the embassy makes a lot of effort to represent its community and be as open as possible. Adwan also said that what the activists did “is a bit offensive.”
The tiff between the ambassador and the Lebanese citizens came days after Lebanon's caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi sent a letter to the General Directorate of General Security and the General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces calling on security forces to prevent gatherings that “promote sexual perversion,” referring to homosexuality.
At 42 Villa Copernic, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, the walls were plastered with colorful posters Monday night. “Those responsible for the explosion in the Port of Beirut are not sanctioned, but homosexuality is sanctioned,” the flyers read, in addition to “A pedophile priest is protected in Lebanon, but homosexuality is sanctioned.”
The Lebanese priest being Mansour Labaki was sentenced in absentia in November 2021 to 15 years in prison on charges of rape and sexual assault of minors by the criminal court of Calvados in Caen, Normandy. Labaki has been taking refuge in Lebanon for years.
‘Publicity stunt, rotten reaction’
That evening, Adwan said that he removed the posters off the embassy’s walls, which also serves as his residence. He then saw some Lebanese sitting in a coffee shop across the street filming him.
Adwan claimed that he has been inviting the young activists to have a dialogue with him at the embassy, an invitation they refused, according to him.
“Refusing dialogue is a rotten reaction," Adwan repeated to L’Orient-Le Jour. “I understand that these young people wanted to express their frustration, but that is not a reason to act like rotten people.” He described the activists’ act as a “publicity stunt” and a “rotten way to seek the media buzz,” adding that people “do not make society evolve by plastering the walls, but by crossing its walls.”
"The LGBTQ+ community must knock on the door of the embassy and speak out so that we can get the message across clearly in Lebanon,” the ambassador added, stressing that “dialogue can advance all causes, especially freedoms.”
Contacted by L’Orient-Le Jour, one of the activists, who wished to remain anonymous, said that their act was “symbolic.”
"Why go to the embassy?" the activist asked. “The ambassador says that he is listening, but this is not the case. As soon as we contradict him, he attacks!” According to the activist, who has spoken with Adwan in the past on other issues, "there is no point in talking to him — two years ago, we talked with him, and for two hours he kept shouting at us and cutting us off," the activist added.
The activist also accused Adwan, who was the chief of staff of Gebran Bassil, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, when the latter was the foreign affairs minister, of not representing the Lebanese diaspora but merely the supporters of the FPM.
“I am not close to the FPM in particular, I am close to everyone," the ambassador argued.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the party, chaired by Bassil, denounced the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and reiterated its commitment to “protect the rights of individuals and individual freedoms.” But the activist claimed that “several FPM legislatures do not support the rights of LGBTQ+.” For Adwan, “politics has nothing to do with freedoms, it is not a political demand, it is a societal demand.”
This article was originally published in French in L’Orient-Le Jour.
BEIRUT — A heated argument took place between Lebanese ambassador Rami Adwan and Lebanese activists in France, after the latter put up rainbow-colored posters, the symbol of the LGBTQ community, on the walls of the Lebanese Embassy in France on Monday night, prompting the ambassador to face the activists, according to a video of the incident that is circulating on social media.When the...