Beirut Gay Pride Parade

Beirut Gay Pride Parade

The only Arab city which hosts a gay pride parade is the city of Beirut in Lebanon. The parade took place for the first time in history in the year 2006 under heavy security and police presence.

Following the celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia that year, a complaint was filed against Helem ( an organization that leads a peaceful struggle for the liberation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered (LGBT) in Lebanon from all sorts of violations of civil, political, economic, social, or cultural rights) accusing it of "public indecency and corrupting the youth". The prosecutor however dropped the investigation for lack of crime.

The Gay Pride Parade in Beirut is rather discreet and only attracts a few dozen activists and aficionados. Though in recent years it has been substituted with seminars, workshops and exhibitions pertaining to the gay community.

To note that although Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code (derived from French legislations during the French mandate on Lebanon) states "sexual intercourse contrary to nature" is punishable for up to 1 year in prison, it is rarely used. (Organizations are also currently lobbying to amend it.)

Tel Aviv also has its own mini gay pride, which continuously struggles with the orthodox parties. Although the state established on occupied Palestine is as a whole far from being gay-friendly, the IGLYO voted to host the 2011 GA in Tel Aviv. Arab blogs (Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian etc..) called for its boycott as it was "contributing to a worldwide government-funded campaign that aims to brand Israel as a gay haven and 'pinkwash' its war crimes by the use of gay rights, while disparaging and demonizing the Arab and Palestinian society" . They also asked to reject all organizations and websites such as gaymiddleeast, which, under the pretext of providing a platform for LGBT activists are actually thought to be Zionists with a hidden agenda. Some of the complaints addressed to gaymiddleeast (founded and managed by an Israeli Assaf Gatenio) by Arab LGBT activists for example include their encouragement of foreign intervention, being westerners acting as spokespersons and gatekeepers for queer Arab voices with a direct line to the Western media, selling Israeli colonialism and apartheid as democratic and gay-friendly.

An interesting thing to note is that in 2007, Mr. Gay Morocco Shakir Badar, represented his country in Mister Gay World.

Bear Arabia (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon) is also an unofficial pageant that is held in Beirut by a tour operator, striving to attract more tourists and business.

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