From Beirut to Cairo: Be Safe!

September 29, 2017 Leave a comment

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In the light of the latest aggression and waves of hate speech towards the LGBTQ community in Egypt, from the Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor, WE STAND BY YOU in solidarity. We have a great belief that these unfortunate, horrible incidents are the first steps towards real change; your voice is now heard more than ever and Egypt now knows you are not willing to compromise your rights!

We also urge the Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor followers from and/or residing in Egypt to be cautious and to prioritize their safety as the change that they are entitled to achieve requires them being there, safe and strong!

Hence, we are sharing this post by the “M-Coalition” so please consider it carefully:

تحذير”
فيه تطورات سريعة للوضع دلوقتي؛ فيه هجوم حقيقي بيحصل.
الشرطة قامت بتمشيط منطقة رمسيس وقبضت النهارده على ٦ أشخاص.
وكمان موضوع السبعة دول، بالرغم فيه تضارب بيانات عن مكانهم ولكن الجزء الأكيد إنهم إتلموا إمبارح بالليل وبخصوص الحفلة وأعلام الرينبو زائ، يعني ١٣ شخص في ٢٤ ساعة، زائد ٣ تانييين بدايةً من السبت.

يا ريت، الناس كلهت تبدأتاخد أقصى درجات السلامة.
– حذف كل الشات من على الموبايل وحذف تطبيقات الفيس بوك إستعملوا الفيس بوك من المتصفح Browser.
– حذف تطبيقات المواعدة من على الموبايل وعدم مقابلة شخص لم تقابله من قبل.
– عدم مقابلة في هذه النقاط؛ عصائر فرغلي شارع جامعة الدول / بداية شارع رمسيس قصاد المتحف المصري وميدان التحرير/ بداية شارع مكرم عبيد من شارع النصر/ جنينة ميدان رمسيس/ حمام العام في ميدان عبد المنعم رياض.
– مسح أي صور خاصة من على الموبايل.
– في حالة القبض عليك إنكار كل التهم الموجهة ليك، وتقول/ي “ماحصلش – ماعرفش – مش بتاعتي”

لو فيه أي تطورات هنبلغكم/ن!

  “#إحنا_برضه_القوة #العلم_هزهم

 

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What Do They Say About You? Lebanese Attitudes Towards LGBTQ In Numbers!

September 12, 2017 Leave a comment

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How many times have you heard someone in Lebanon say “I am fine with gays as long as they do not approach me” ??? That simply implies that LGBT  people are ready to approach every single person of their interest?!!!

 

People, websites, media, politicians and many others do talk a lot about LGBTQ… But what do Lebanese people in particular say?

 

Some international media have continuously praised Lebanon for being the first LGBTQ-haven in the Arab World! Quite great right?

 

Others saw the full picture and recognized the long road we still have to run before proclaiming Lebanon an LGBTQ-haven…

 

Away from the popular media, a study was conducted back in 2015 by N. Nasr and T. Zeidan under the title of “As long as they stay away: Exploring Lebanese Attitudes Towards Sexualities and Gender Identities.”

 

The study was held at a national level.

 

So what do numbers say about what Lebanese say about the LGBTQ?

 

60% said homosexuals can stop being “homo”sexuals!

72% said homosexuals are hormonally or mentally sick!

79% said homosexuals should be treated…

76% said homosexuals being recognized as “normal” wouldn’t be beneficial for society

∼90% said homosexuals should do their best to overcome their feelings

61.7% said homosexuals shouldn’t be offered society-protection from discrimination?!?

 

We can of course feel sorry for what this study had shown about our society’s attitude towards… just another part of our society!

However, we can also look at the bright, rainbow-ish side of the picture: this great initiative showed us where we are at the moment and this is just a perfect way to move on and progress.

If we acknowledge what we are and how we think, we can start pinpointing every problem at a time and work on solving it until we reach our dream tolerant-society!

Is Your Doctor on “the list of pride”? 1 of 2 Doctors in Lebanon Refuse To Treat LGBTQ Patients…

September 7, 2017 Leave a comment

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It was 2005, right after Former PM Rafik Hariri was assassinated. I was screaming of pain and my parents chose to take me to an Urologist in Beirut. He opened the door and while completely overlooking my aching screams, looked my father sharply in the eyes and bluntly asked him: “are you with or against Syria?”

 

Why is this story relevant now?

 

Because earlier this week, a group of Lebanese doctors have launched an online service that is greatly expected to succeed in creating a safer and more humane medical field in Lebanon where EVERYONE is welcomed to any medical clinic regardless of who they are, look like, wear, think and believe or not believe in.

 

The Lebanese group of doctors practicing in the US, Canada and Lebanon have already founded LebMash, the Lebanese Medical Health Association for Sexual Health back in 2012. This Tuesday, they launched “LebGuide” online at LebMash.org/LebGuide after a year of anticipation, hard work and hope for a better future for all patients in Lebanon inclusively.

 

One must optimistically tend to believe that this anecdote and the attitude of the urologist was just back in 2005 and that doctors of Lebanon do not pick and choose who to provide care for anymore. We like to think they do not choose “customers” rather than patients on the basis of political and religious affiliations and other identity ingredients.

 

Before continuing, you do know that the previous paragraph was sarcastic and that the situation of medical ethics is worsening and that the openness of physicians to every patient out there is not yet accomplished right?

 

Okay, now we can continue to something worse!

 

At least, people of certain religious or political affiliations have had the choice before becoming affiliated with a certain religion or a political party or movement. What about those who have had no choice? What about people of different genders and more importantly people of different sexual orientations?

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) had published an article under the title of “The Five Star Doctor” as an attempt to set clear and simple criteria for a perfect doctor that are comprehensible by the public.

 

One criterion to know if your physician in Lebanon is a five star one is “Equity”. According to the WHO article, “equity, which is central to a socially accountable health care system, means striving towards making high-quality health care available to all.”

 

If it is not already clear, “all” includes people of all colors, races, genders, sexual orientations, political and religious affiliations!

So, are doctors of Lebanon as five-star as we like to think of them?

 

A study conducted by Lebanese doctor Faisal El Kak, unfortunately and yet fortunately revealed that 50% of the studied physicians showed readiness to treat or work with homosexual patients.

 

In the same study of 2010, 73% of the physicians believed that homosexuality is a disease. This is not to get started on how reparative treatments from homosexuality are still being explicitly offered and advertised for in Lebanon and Lebanese media.

According to LebMash’s official website, their aim is to “spread awareness and knowledge, as well as influencing the attitudes and behavior of health-care providers and the general public regarding LGBT health and sexual health.”

 

So how would LebGuide influence the medical scene in Lebanon and its relation with LGBTQ patients?

 

LebGuide provides a search engine in which an LGBT patient or care provider of an LGBT patient can look up the name and location of a physician who guarantees a safe space and pledges a humane and indiscriminate treatment for all patients!

 

Physicians can be looked up by gender, specialization and location. Moreover, a patient can always rate that physician, maybe not in terms of medical expertise but in terms of humane reception of the patient according to his/her experience. People can also suggest physicians to be added to the list of pride as I like to think of it.

 

Presumably, if you are a physician and you are aware that we live in 2017, you definitely not want to be ashamed by your name not being on the list of pride!

 

Hence, today, practices of discrimination against patients of the LGBTQ community can no longer be protected by the doors of the clinics of shame; it is now all in the light and before the eyes of the public.

 

So the question is, would the discriminant physicians really want to face the public with their discrimination? Or will they, as expected, change their mentality even if just for the sake of being on the list?

 

With ultimate hope and close-to-desperate faith, we cannot wait to see LebGuide impacting health institutions in Lebanon so that we can get to a day where if you’re queer and sick, you wouldn’t have to think twice before consulting a doctor or seeking help!

 

LebGuide is thus expected to put an end to clientelism in medicine in Lebanon.

If you are gay you are okay, we know that, but if you are gay and not feeling okay, you should be able to receive help whenever and wherever needed!

 

Maya Diab: “People Who Don’t See LGBTQ People As People, Should Learn How To Become People!”

September 5, 2017 Leave a comment

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Lebanese artist, anchor and influencer Maya Diab was hosted by Future TV anchor Paula Yaacoubian on her weekly Inter-Views on Wednesday August 23rd. Paula hosting Maya on her political show was already deemed controversial. That they would be discussing LGBTQ rights and tolerance in Lebanon was just an elephant in the room!

Both ladies are already known for their supportive statements with regard to the LGBTQ community and that was witnessed when they were both hosted by Mona Abou Hamzeh on Talk of the Town on MTV Lebanon few months ago.   

Despite her explicit support, Paula still fell in the trap of terminologies where she referred to the LGBTQ community as “irregulars/outlaws/abnormals” aka “shawath/شواذ” more than three times throughout the talk.  

To all the people attacking her for “cheering” for the LGBTQ community, Maya responded that she refuses to be accused of cheering for anyone: “I am not a cheerleader here, and this is not an event that needs cheering. Neither accepting, rejecting nor even cheering for the LGBTQ community is an option anymore, they simply exist and they have always existed.”

Oddly enough, Maya still had to justify her performance at a gay club in Beirut to the public, even after more than a year since the controversial party took place. At that time, Maya launched a social media campaign defending her right to sing for whomever she wants. Back then, She was both praised and massively attacked for vigorously defending the LGBTQ rights.

After reiterating how her music should only be seen as a tool of unification and communication and after mocking the so called “democratic system” of Lebanon, Maya continued to refuse any “trophy” from any LGBTQ organization due to her belief that she is only doing what everyone else should be doing!  

Maya also told a recent anecdote in which her sister handed her a written message from a fan who told her how he could have never imagined a celebrity speaking about his community publicly. Maya stressed on the fact that the fan was subject to sexual assault in his childhood and that he is still struggling with the cruelty of his parents and the society.

Once again, Paula couldn’t avoid falling for yet another terminological fallacy where she generalized that the LGBTQ are people who choose to be as such, and that was ironically right after Maya told the story of the victim/fan who clearly had no choice! This does not change the fact that Paula was supportive throughout the rest of the talk.

Maya concluded with a couple of very impactful and moving statements. “We are not oil and water, we are one! People who don’t see LGBTQ people as people, should learn how to become people!”

Inter-views 24/08/2017 مع الفنانة مايا دياب

شو السبب؟ ?Shu el Sabab

January 12, 2016 Leave a comment

ما بهم شو السبب، المثليّة منّا مرض: فيلم تثقيفي حول التصنيف الطبي للمثليّة الجنسية. “شو السبب؟” هو السؤال الأول الذي يراودنا عند مقاربة موضوع المثلية الجنسية في لبنان

أظهرت دراسة حديثة أعدها مركز الموارد الجندرية والجنسانية لدى المؤسسة العربية للحرية والمساواة أن ٧٢٪ من اللبنانيين واللبنانيات يعتقدون بأن المثلية الجنسية هي حالة اضطراب نفسي، لا سيما وأن بعض مهنيي الصحة النفسية في لبنان ما زالوا يمارسون أنواع مختلفة من علاجات تحويل الميول الجنسي وذلك خلافاً لأعراف الطب النفسي العالمية واللبنانية

تأسّست الجمعية الطبية اللبنانية للصحة الجنسية (لبماش) في لبنان في ٤ أيلول/سبتمبر ٢٠١٢، وهي منظّمةٌ غبر حكوميّةٍ لا تبغي الرّبح. تهدف جمعية لبماش إلى تحسين الصحّة الجنسية لجميع الأفراد في لبنان، مع التركيز بشكلٍ خاصٍّ على المثليين والمثليات ومزدوجي/ات الميول الجنسيّة والمتحوّلين/ات جنسيًا، وغيرهم/ن من الفئات المهمّشة في لبنان

لتصويب الرأي العام حول تصنيف المثلية الجنسية كحالة اجتماعية غير مرضية، أعدَّت جمعية لبماش فيلم رسوم متحركة يسلط الضوء على الموضوع ويشير إلى عدم جدوى علاجات تحويل الميول الجنسي والتي غالباً ما يكون تأثيرها سلبياً

شو السبب؟ هو فيلم رسوم متحركة يستند على شهادات حياة لمثليين ومثليّات من لبنان، شاركوا في مجموعات تركيز أجرتها لبماش لِتدوين تجربتهم/ن الشخصية، صَمَّمته ونفّذته جيسيكا عازار بتمويل كريم من السفارة السويسريّة في بيروت

Shu el Sabab? (what is the cause?) is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding homosexuality in Lebanon. A recent study conducted by the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) showed that 72% of the Lebanese population perceive homosexuality as a mental disorder. Some mental health professionals in Lebanon continue to practice various forms of conversion therapy against the recommendations of international and Lebanese mental health professional organizations

The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) produced this movie to address these issues and increase awareness regarding homosexuality, its “cause”, lack of efficacy of conversion therapy, and its potential harmful effects

This movie was designed and animated by the talented Jessica Azar. It was made possible by a generous grant from the Swiss Embassy in Lebanon. This movie is based on the stories of gay and lesbian individuals living in Lebanon who participated in focus groups conducted by LebMASH

This is what the doctor told me about LGV

November 3, 2014 Leave a comment

IMG_8877Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmissible infection (STI). It has occurred in outbreaks in Western Europe and North America. Since talking about sexual health lately is no longer a taboo in our area, I visited a clinic in Hamra (close to Costa cafe, same building as SGBL) recommended by a friend to talk to a young doctor who reported recently the first case of LGV in Lebanon in an HIV-negative MSM (Man who has sex with a man). A very calm and welcoming environment you get its vibes once you get the “blue-ashy” clinic of Dr. Ismaël Maatouk, a Dermato-Venereologist who works in Beirut, and welcomes all patient with no discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for more than 3 years. Dr. Maatouk, have in his records more then 40 publications and several appearances in worldwide conferences talking about STI’s.

Below are his answers to some of my questions:

What is LGV?

It is an infection caused by three types (L1, L2 and L3) of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

IS it the same Chlamydia we know?

Yes, the same bacteria, but different sub-types.

Is it a new described infection?

No, it is an old infection and since 2003, initial clusters of LGV cases in MSM were reported in the Netherlands followed by a series of outbreaks in Europe, North America and Australia, mainly among HIV-positive MSM. However, it is not an MSM disease: it can infect sexually active people.

Is this infection frequent in MSM in those countries?

A large study in MSM from London and Brighton showed an estimated prevalence of LGV of 0.90% in the rectum and only 0.04% in the urethra.

Is it also present in the pharyngeal area, like the other types of Chlamydia?

Yes, Chlamydia is known to be found during standard STI screening of the urethra, rectum, pharyngeal mucosa. The prevalence of pharyngeal Chlamydia in London MSM is 1.2%.

What is the clinical presentation of this infection?

The classical presentation of LGV is inguinal lymphadenitis and abscess formation sometimes preceded by anogenital ulceration. Which means that we rarely find the genital ulceration associated with LGV because it is transient. Following this transient ulceration, we have an inflammation of the lymphatic ganglia that drains the region, which can be painful and can lead the patient to ask for a consultation. This inflammation looks like an abscess.

Is there any test we can perform to confirm the diagnosis?

Yes, a test based on PCR.

Is the treatment difficult?

No, it is a 3-week course of doxycycline.

Do we search for this disease in Lebanon?

In a routine consultation, No. The test is expensive.

I have read that recently, you reported the first case of LGV in Lebanon. Was it in a HIV-positive MSM as well?

No, it was in a HIV-negative MSM. However, it can infect any patient, regardless of HIV status and sexual orientation.

Do you see other STIs in your clinic? I mean severe cases like syphilis? Are these cases frequent?

We have syphilis, they are definitely not frequent, but they exist.

What do you think of LebMASH?

I really appreciate the work that these doctors are doing. Helping and being there for the LGBT community is what we need in our days. I support them to the maximum.

Special thanks to Doctor Ismaël Maatouk

By: Alex.

An “A to Y” Explanation of the Hammam Al Agha Raid: Awaiting the Trial

August 16, 2014 Leave a comment

An “A to Y” Explanation of the Hammam Al Agha Raid: Awaiting the Trial  

by Rabih El Koussa

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Within the effervescent city of Beirut, and among the ever-vibrant touristic stops of the streets of Hamra, lies a bathhouse so care-free that only the most stressed of men would visit. Having a fallacious reputation of only being frequented by homosexual men, Hammam Al Agha, on Saturday the 9th of August, was not as calm as always. After receiving a tip-off from an arrested man, explains colonel Tony Haddad of Hbeich Police Station, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) proceeded onto raiding the bathhouse and arresting 27 men, including the owner of the Hammam, the employees, and the clients, on the allege that Hammam Al Agha is a venue commonly visited by men who seek sexual encounters with other men, hence, a possible offense of Article 534 of the Criminal Penal Code which prohibits “unnatural sexual intercourse.”

It is necessary to recall previous landmark ruling of Judge Naji Al-Dahdah who considered that Article 534 is irrelevant as gender is based on self-perception, and to consider the preceding decision of Judge Mounir Suleiman in December 2009, who found that article 534 is no longer applicable in circumstances of homosexual sexual intercourse, as homosexuality might be defying the prevalent norms of society, yet is absolutely not against the laws of nature. Since when has a set of legal advisers been able to dictate what nature deems natural or unnatural?

To a great surprise, the unfortunate incident had only come to the attention of civil society two days after the arrest, on the night of Monday the 11th of August. And to a greater surprise, the improper raid and detention, (a clear breach of humanitarian logic and moral) was only considered a relevant issue by NGOs concerned with the physiological and psychological health of LGBT people.

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 The first question to be asked: Why is the legal system corrupt? Why are detainees considered guilty until proven innocent? This, from this point on, is no longer a fight the LGBT community must hold. It has become the moral obligation of anyone who believes in a system of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ instead of ‘guilty until proven innocent.’ Subsequently, a press release which was written as a collaborative work of Helem, the Arab Foundation For Freedoms And Equality, M-Coalition, Marsa – Sexual Health Center, and LebMASH confirmed the detainment of 27 men and started an investigation on the reasons of the raid and the status of the detained.

When asked, Col. Haddad denied that any of the detainees were subjected to any physical or verbal violence or abuse – nor to the anal probe test – throughout the investigation. Col. Haddad also informed us that “the investigators were able to obtain confirmations from some of the detainees concerning their sexual orientation,” explains the press report, on the basis of what Col. Haddad has claimed, which cannot be confirmed beyond his word.

The files of the detainees have been transferred to General Prosecutor Bilal Dinnawi who will be presiding over the case and following up on the charges. Mr. Dinnawi has expressed an unlikeliness of charging the detainees with an offense of Article 534, and will be accusing the still-in-custody men of an offense of Article 521, an infringement of public decency. After getting acquainted with legal perspective regarding the trial, it is safe to say that Article 521 is not applicable in such a situation and would be considered an invalid interpretation of the law. “Unless serious evidence is available, the charges must be dropped immediately,” added another lawyer.

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A law instructor at the Lebanese University (LU) clarified that any activity occurring within the bathhouse with the consent of the owner technically renders the action “private” which eliminates any possibility of “public” indecency. Following up on the lack of media attention to the subject, it becomes a responsibility to highlight MTV’s homophobically inaccurate article headline “Collective Homosexual Acts in a Beirut Hammam”, and LBCI’s news remark “The protection of public decency in Lebanon has been revolving around raiding cinema halls, night clubs, and homes, and now, Turkish bathhouses. The protection of public decency has become a means of exploiting personal sexual freedom by a law which by itself contradicts the laws of nature.”

The defendants have been contacted by several NGOs and have expressed great discomfort and disorientation regarding their present status and the process of the investigation and the trial. At the time this article was written, the NGOs collaborating on the lobbying for the release of the detained had contacted Ghida Franjieh from the Legal Agenda and had inferred that the 27 detainees will be charged with both, an offense of Article 534 as well as several offenses of Article 521.

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Additionally, and with a sudden twist of preliminary charges, the owner of the Hammam will be accused of soliciting sex work and prostitution. Concerning the trialled men, six had been able to obtain a release form and were let go, sixteen had requested continual support and follow up from the civil society regarding bail aid and legal representation, and two trans-women have been added to the list of detainees after being held in custody for 20 days without any advancement with their cases.

Prosecution has set a bail of 5,000 USD and a trial date due Monday, August the 18th. The bail funds are yet lacking and NGOs are requesting financial aid through Marsa‘s “donate now” section  or through deposits at Bardo under the name of Joseph Aoun. The critique boiling up from within NGO employees and activists has been truly degrading to Proud Lebanon and its involvement in the case. It has been said that interference and cooperation have been minimal.

“Financially, we are trying to get funds for that via our connections,” insisted Bertho Makso, Founder/Director of Proud Lebanon. Proud Lebanon is soon expected to publish a press release revolving around a pertinent action plan.

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As a final request, we demand that security forces, who have raided yet another bathhouse, Hammam Shehrazade, in the morning of Thursday August the 14th, deal with the problems which are more critical, more mandatory and contribute to the betterment of society. Has fighting drug abuse among youths become too mainstream all of a sudden?

Lastly, as expressed by activist John Abou Elias, “it is important for LGBTQI individuals to be acquainted with their rights, before, during, and after trials in case of detainment; Therefore, there must be more legal outreach and awareness campaigns in the very near future.”  We await Monday’s trial. Impatiently.

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