Home > LGBT - Politics > Did Helem miss!? “ما موقف جمعية حلم من موقف “جمعية حلم

Did Helem miss!? “ما موقف جمعية حلم من موقف “جمعية حلم

For the International Women Day, Al-Akhbar newspaper provided a space for women from all different groups to express themselves.

Did Helem turn its back on its community?

As progressive and righteous as Al-Akhbar usually is, a space for lesbians, bisexual women and transgendered individuals was provided.

Hiba Abbani, Helem administrator, had the opportunity to represent Lebanese Lesbian, bisexual women and transgrender individuals. Read her piece titled  حقوق مثليّي/ات لبنان: أسقطوا النظام الطائفي (Arabic for: Lebanese lesbian and gay rights: Down with sectarianism). Let us know what you think!

The first ideas that jumps to your mind:

  • Does Abbani’s opinion represent that of Helem? After all, the article is signed رئيسة الهيئة الإداريّة في جمعيّة حلم (Arabic for: President of Helem’s Administrator’s Committee)
  • Does her comment يعبر هذا المقال عن وجهة نظري الشخصية و ليس عن موقف جمعية حلم . اقتضى التوضيح (Arabic for: This article represents my personal opinion and not that of Helem organization) that is buried among the thread of comments under the article enough and sufficient?
  • Did Helem miss a golden media opportunity?

When The Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor posted the article, three strong criticisms were immidiately posted.

Here is the response of Mr. Joseph Aoun, manager of Bardo:

well i was reading ur article online on al akhbar, well u know it’s good that u said that the article isn’t the helem position towards the matters dicussed afterwards, however for next time if u may please let’s not do the “Sakata Sahwan” game bcz people who bought the newspaper didn’t read ur appology on writing, “Ra2isat l hay2a l tanfiziyya fi jam3iyyat 7elem”, n to be frank i don’t think it really “Sakatat Sahwan”. With ur title u represent gays of lebanon, i don’t know how much true it is with all the internal issues ur opinions are creating, however that’s the image ur projecting to the straight community who don’t know ” l cherdeh wel Werdeh”.

As for details within the “brotherhood” or “Sisterhood”, u know? i am somebody that catagorize himself of being a leftist (socialist if i may say), however i have a strong position against the way ur mixing ideas in non relevant subjects. “al ra2smaliyya” “al tabaka l 3amila”, who r u the gay female version of Karl Marx? Me n You share obviously alot of ideas, excluding the idea of mixing them all together in “Tabkhit Ba7s”.

I like a lot of the opinions u’ve gave, however 7esseh l so7afeh having studied basics in journalism make me say the way you mixed subjects in the article show a lack of chronology of ideas and conclusions. It showed more a pretentious aspect of intellectualism and showoff rather than an objective article meant to be read by “al tabaka l 3amma” so shall i say ur targetting intellectual gay people in a discriminatory article same as for the gay places targetting the wealthy gay community?

As for the salaries paid for “al tabaka l3amila” in gay places, could u provide me the factual numbers, u based your opinions on? that would add credibility for you indeed!

As for the gay places being more expensive? i went to a restaurant today and had to pay 75$ for my meal, it hurts, however u have this n that in Lebanon, n guess what? not only in gay places!!!Now let’s go to the personal aspect of it:

1-You had the chance to give a good idea about us in our society n u were given that priviledge i guess for being involved in activism n having ur position in helem, u abused it n started involving our society with things that are internal and that’s called technically “Abuse of position ” for the personal cause.

2-The main purpose of helem was to join people, defend them, spread awareness in the society, give a good image and a strong one to others, help the ones that are being violated….with ur opinions you’ve fulfilled non of these.

3-You are attacking businesses that have been very supportive to helem in its work on the ground and played a role in connecting helem to alot of gay people n giving it exposure.

4-You managed to make people who were ready to serve the cause by any way, far away of doing it under your suppervision, me being an echantillon of alot of people who read your article and were disappointed by it!

Sincerely yours, Joe

Here is the response of Mr. Georges Azzi, previous Helem coordinator and current president of Arab Foundation for Freedom and Equality:

1- it is sad to see that we did not use the space that was given to us in a national newspaper for constructive and useful cause. Are gay businesses more of a priority than article 534 and police practices?

2- most of your arguments are assumptions and not based on facts, itis weired when people who claim are radical leftists use the same prejudice and intimidation technics like right wing fanatics. You assume that people who go to bars are superficial and not politicly engaged which is pretentious from your side again reminds me of judgements made by homophobic magazine. It seems that extrem left and extrem right do meet at some point.

3- I think that certain circles of activists are more exclusive and elitist than gay bars, which explains why they do not manage to gather a big number of people.

I hope that we promote solidarity because it is much needed at this point


Myra M. Abdallah, an LGBT activist, responds:

Hiba, no one can deny that it is a great article. In my opinion:

1- I find straight places more expensive than gay places, especially the ones located in Hamra. Hamra street is known to be leftist and very cheap according to other nightlifestreets in Beirut. Gay places have a very shy existence outside Beirut anyway.

2- Besides, gay business are not charity!!! The owners are business people with a financial target. They can’t go to failure just because they want to be affordable for everybody. If, by asking gay places to be affordable, you mean that a person who wants to go there should be able to have a coke for 3.000 L.L. and stay there all night and has the right to do it because all this person wants to pay there is 5.000 (and I’ve seen it a lot), I think you are being a little bit irrational.

3- When you want to make gay places “as you like” maybe you should start by sticking to their rules and policies. It is not gay places fault that gay people are discriminated in Lebanon. How can you ask them to stick by their rules when you are not able to stick by their rules and go crazy making boycott campaigns that are most of the times over reacted and irrational.

4- I second what Joe and Georges said, it is so said to use this spot we were given to “ncharchi7” gay places instead of using it to make gay community look strong.

With all my respect, Myra

The question remains, does responses like those of Mr. Azzi, Mr. Aoun and Mrs. Abdallah represent a minority or a majority of the Lebanese LGBT community and their supporters?

Until we have appropriate polls and reliable statistics this question will remain unanswered.

We are very interested in reading from you. What do you think? Did Helem miss a precious media spot? Do you agree with Abbani’s ideology?

Please comment!



  1. Raphael Avedisian
    March 10, 2011 at 12:21 am

    And who says that Helem represent ALL the gay(s) of Lebanon?????
    Am gay Am Lebanese I don’t trust in Helem

    *Tell me one thing that Helem Make it for Lebanese LGBT, Aids Free Test wtf.
    We need something like PFLAG in 1983 USA.
    upsss in 1983 we had WAR kena 3am n2abir ba3ed and we still 🙂
    Freedom is not to have a gay night; Freedom is to make your gay life out without fear.

    With all my due respect to Helem’s association members

    • March 10, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      Thank you for your input. Check http://www.helem.net and Follow their official page on Facebook to stay in touch with all the advancement and great work Helem has done and is doing. I agree that there is always a space for improvement but disagree to take away the credit for all the great achievements that Helem has done on social, political, media, awareness, health and public relation fronts.

  2. talal karis
    March 10, 2011 at 7:23 am

    wadi7 le katib hal article 3am be hajim 7alo w sara7a ra2yik ma be himne with all my respect ba ra2ye el 5as le maktoub mish la hem 7ada

    • March 10, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      The article just state facts, a link to an article and a link to three responses that were posted on the Media Monitor. The article does not make judgement (or at least does not intend to) beyond leaving you questions that we do not have answers to unless we polol a large portion of the LGBT community. This article provides an opportunity for everyone to express what they truely believe? Shall we endorse the struggle of the LGBT community with all its social classes or shall we put up a fight among different classes of the LGBT community?

  3. yusuf
    March 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    hello guys
    i just read the article and i think helem DID NOT miss a big a precious media spot.
    this article scares some …, and brings power to so many gays from the suburbs.the article mentioned 534,and as well other problems inside our community. in the national news papers there’s an opinion that speaks their mind (as i am one of them i love this article ) .
    If it’s all wrong, then it’s all got to change ,imagine a better Lebanon for every one

  4. Hala
    March 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    bil aks. 7abiet al makal. kilu nafess al nidal. iza bno2ssom al qadaya .. mnekhsar qouwa

  5. samer
    March 11, 2011 at 7:08 am

    the article was signed by the name of the write, hiba. so it represents her own opinion. as simple as this! cheers 🙂

    • March 12, 2011 at 3:15 am

      The article was signed Hiba Abbani, president of Helem’s administration committee.

  6. Nadz
    March 11, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Very different ideas came to my mind when I read the article.

    1. The author is 100% correct. For sure, many struggles (LGBT, women’s, environmental..) can easily miss out on less privileged groups.

    2. Yes, Lebanon’s image as that of a liberated gay-friendly country because it has a gay nightlife is false. Nobody can say otherwise.

    3. Such critique should not scare or offend us, it should motivate us to work harder to make our movement more accessible to the working class. We cannot control the bars and pubs because those are businesses and they exist to make money. They might have secondary goals, but their first goal is to make a good margin of profit. We can only control other spaces, and there is where we should work.

    4. Since the author is President of Helem, Helemites and their community should be proud that this opinion is voiced. It means that the organization is aware of these problems and is making an effort to address them. It means they are looking at the complexities of the queer community and not just the one common element of sexual orientation. And that is a terrific thing.

    5. It seems that we have gotten used to measuring how “gay-friendly” a place is by whether or not it allows us to make out with same-sex partners or “act gay.” I believe the author is implying that we should measure gay-friendliness in how much the place is accessible to the diversity of queers in Lebanon. For a large group, the first question on their mind is not “can I kiss my boyfriend here?” but “can I afford it here?” Since these are businesses, like I mentioned, the answer for many will remain no. And we should constantly (as it will always be an issue) answer the question of “can the less privileged access our movement?”

    • March 12, 2011 at 3:18 am

      Thank you for your valuable feedback Nadz.

      You bring so many valid and essential points to this discussion. It appears that points 3. and 5. might bring the two opposing groups on this issue closer to a common ground.

  7. March 12, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Read my response to this article and the comments here: http://habdessamad.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/discrimination

  8. Bobzi
    March 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    As I posted on the LGBT Media monitor, this is not the first nor the last time Helem gets to speak, it’s fine if we address this issue this once.
    Helem is not turning its back on the community, and a small visit to their offices can show the amount of work that is being done.

    Kudos to Abbani for speaking up (:

  9. May 19, 2011 at 9:41 am

    hi guys i have to talk with u plz i need ur help but ok thanx alot

    i love u soooooooooooooooooooooooooo much

    u r amazing

    X X X

  1. March 12, 2011 at 10:46 am
  2. March 19, 2011 at 8:18 pm

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