BEIRUT — Caretaker Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada and Forces of Change MP Mark Daou engaged in heated debate over the weekend over a draft bill signed in July by nine MPs, including Daou, to repeal the article of the penal code that criminalizes supposed "relations against nature," in reference to same-sex relationships. The debate also revolved around the Minister's request to ban the movie Barbie in Lebanon.
On Saturday, Mortada, who is close to Hezbollah and Amal, referenced two clauses from the Lebanese constitution to justify his stance against what he called "sexual perversion," and referred to the fact that both Islam and Christianity "condemn homosexuality."
Pope Frances has stated multiple times that homosexuality is not a crime.
In a post on X (previously Twitter), Mortada wrote: "Article 9 and 10 of the constitution impose on the state the respect of religious values and to ban any teaching against these moral values. Christianity and Islam condemn sexual perversion that is against the Creator's system and call to oppose these phenomena that have a disastrous impact on society." Mortada attached a photo of the draft law signed by the MPs to his post.
المادتان ٩ و ١٠ من الدستور تفرضان على الدولة تأدية فروض الاجلال لله تعالى وإحترام التعاليم الدينية ومنع أيّ تعليمٍ يناقض القيم الأخلاقية المنبثقة عنها.— القاضي محمد وسام المرتضى وزير الثقافة (@JugeMMourtada) August 12, 2023
المسيحية والإسلام، ينبذان الشذوذ الجنسي المخالف ل"نظام الخالق" ويدعوان إلى مواجهة هذه الظواهر لأثرها الكارثي على المجتمع. pic.twitter.com/9D3C1Uit9e
"We hope that the MP who signed this bill withdraw their signatures (...)," Mortada also wrote on X. "Those who want to impose their +liberal+ view on the Lebanese population will have to change our beliefs as Muslims and Christians and change our constitution (...). If they succeed, which they won't, we will help them watch any movie they want and to draft any laws they want to permit perversity," he concluded.
Daou reacted Saturday to the minister's posts on X, saying it is an "insult for the culture that this position [culture minister] was given to this person [Mohammad Mortada]" and "it is an insult for the judiciary that he is a judge."
Mortada was a judge before being appointed minister.
In a post on X, Daou said the preamble of the Lebanese constitution calls for the country to abide by international pacts and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy which prospers on respecting general freedoms, the first of which is respecting freedom of expression and belief for all its citizen without distinguishing or favoring."
اهانة للثقافة ان يكون لقب وزير منح لهذا الشخص— Mark B. Daou ?️➕ (@DaouMark) August 12, 2023
اهانة للقضاء ان يكون لديه منصب قاضي
هذا يظن انه وزير الامر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر، ويعتقد اننا نعيش في دولة دينية وليس مدنية
هذا وزير يخاف من فيلم باربي، ومن بعض الالوان
اهانة للشعب اللبناني ان يكون هكذا شخص يدعي تمثيل الثقافة… https://t.co/8Am1Uz68qL
Daou also told Mortada that Lebanon "is not a religious republic governed by religious laws."
In a statement issued Sunday, Mortada's press bureau replied to Daou without naming him: "Unfortunately we live in a time where we have perverted MPs like yourself, as a result of a perverted electoral law."
"Let your jealousy kill you...you the MP who was elected because of a perverted electoral law. We will not reply to your nonsense," the statement added.
Daou on Sunday replied on X to the statements made by Mortada: "he hides behind his desk.... he formulates accusations and insults (...) revealing his true ugly and dirty nature. When officials reach such low levels, watching Barbie becomes better than wasting time on them."
In another statement issued Sunday, Mortada said he will not reply to media outlets criticizing him for requesting the ban of the Barbie movie, which was met with backlash.
"The film goes against moral and religious values in Lebanon, as it encourages perversity and gender transformation while calling for the rejection of patriarchy and ridiculing the role of mothers," said Mortada, justifying his decision to request the ban of the movie.
However, the Film Censorship Committee in Lebanon, composed of representatives from General Security (GS) and the Ministry of Economy, stated Friday that they have no reason to request the ban of the Barbie movie, a source with knowledge of the committee's proceedings confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour.
The final decision regarding whether or not the Barbie movie will be banned in the country now rests with General Security, according to the source.