In Dekwaneh Part 2: An International Perspective, I detailed how an illegal raid against a gay friendly club was undertaken by an arrogant municipality leader. In this post I’d like to talk about the response since the humiliating raid.
Activists have been organizing beyond basic blogs and taken to Twitter to help rally support. Using the #LebLGBT and #DekAbuse hashtags, discussion has begun about the abuse. In addition, they have organized an Equalathon Facbeook event to spread the word and help organize people against the abuse. Finally, an online picture campaign has begun to get users to change their profile picturesinto a gay themed Lebanese flag that seeks to mimic the Equality campaign in the United States.
Indeed activists organized a protest to speak out beyond the internet and have posted flyers across the neighborhood to spread the message – a sign of bravery that should be commended.
But every day people aren’t the only ones reacting to the news. The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health has also posted a press release condemning the abuse. I’ve posted the full statement below:
The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) strongly condemns the acts undertaken, based on orders from Mr. Shakhtoura, the Mayor of Dekwaneh on April 21st 2013. According to media reports1, personal accounts of victims2, and the mayor’s confession3 on national TV, individuals in Dekwaneh were targeted based on their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Three men and one transwoman were arrested and exposed to verbal, physical, and sexual abuse4.We at LebMASH believe in the World Health Organization (WHO) definition5 of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”Societal oppression, discrimination, abuse, and homophobia/transphobia against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community lead to a higher prevalence of psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. Such discrimination and abuse were apparent on April 21st, 2013.The negative impact of this abuse extends beyond the individuals who were arrested. The abuse represents a threatening message sent to all LGBT individuals in Lebanon where many will fear becoming the next victim. Fear of persecution impacts one’s mental health negatively, especially in a country that still criminalizes “unnatural sexual acts” under Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code.We, as health care providers and concerned citizens of Lebanon:(1) Call on our fellow healthcare professionals in Lebanon to speak up against these acts of abuse and their serious health consequences.(2) Call on the appropriate authorities to launch an immediate investigation into the events of April 21st, 2013. We insist that those who perpetuated the abuse are held accountable for their actions. We must ensure that they face appropriate legal consequences.(3) Call on the Lebanese parliament to eradicate the antiquated and unjust Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code.
The efforts of these individuals is the silver lining to the tragic and disgusting events that have defined the neighborhood for the past few weeks. They give us hope that progress is possible but only through our own efforts, not just the passage of time. It is also a sobering reminder that in the United States, we are not so different than they are because activists here had to take action into their own hands to bring about the change they seek.
If you wish to help in the fight for justice and equality, please consider joining the Equalathon event, changing your profile picture to the picture below, or reach out to your government representative to get international pressure to build up and help those who need our support!
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By: Moussa Hassoun