BEIRUT — MP Adib Abdel Massih, close to Zgharta MP Michel Moawad, announced Tuesday that he was withdrawing his signature from the bill to repeal article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which criminalizes supposed "relations against nature."
In a statement relayed by the state-run National News Agency, Abdel Massih explained that his "intention in affixing his signature to the proposal was simply to stimulate a debate to interpret and clarify the wording of the article in question."
"They made me say what I didn't say, may God forgive them. That's why I'm withdrawing my signature," he added.
Against a backdrop of rhetoric against the LGBTQ+ community, which has intensified since June, a ground-breaking bill to abolish article 534 had been presented to Parliament on July 12 and signed by nine MPs.
Article 534 of the penal code criminalizes "relations against nature,"which is punishable by a year's imprisonment and it is commonly used to prosecute homosexuality.
Abdel Massih emphasized that he wanted "to reach a consensus for the amendment of the article, in collaboration with all stakeholders, including parliamentarians, religious authorities and civil society organizations working for human and social rights."
"This would make the text clearer, fairer and more inclusive, in particular by making the distinction between +illness and crime+ encompassed by the term +against nature+, accurately specifying its meaning and circumstances," he added.
"(...) I am proud of my religious and community affiliation and I therefore refuse to allow anything that might be considered offensive to my church to be undermined," asserted the deputy. "In view of the unease felt in certain Muslim and Christian circles, which I respect (...), I announce the withdrawal of my signature from the draft law," he concluded.
The year 2023 was marked by an alarming rise in homophobic political discourse in Lebanon. This prompted LGBTQ+ rights organization, Proud Lebanon, to issue a statement warning of "the growing number of threats and hate speech directed at LGBTQ+ individuals on dating apps."
In 2022, during Pride Month (June), Sheikh Abdellatif Deriane declared in a speech that Dar el-Fatwa, the highest Sunni authority in Lebanon, "would not allow the legalization of homosexuality or civil marriage." At the time, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi called for the prevention of gatherings that "promote unnatural sexual relations," in a letter addressed to the directorates of General Security and the Internal Security Forces.
BEIRUT — MP Adib Abdel Massih, close to Zgharta MP Michel Moawad, announced Tuesday that he was withdrawing his signature from the bill to repeal article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which criminalizes supposed "relations against nature."In a statement relayed by the state-run National News Agency, Abdel Massih explained that his "intention in affixing his signature to the proposal was...