In recent days, it has become evident that anal tests or “Shame Tests” have returned to Lebanon, as Dr. Ahmad Mokdad, a Lebanese forensic doctor, has been examining individuals using the abusive test in order to determine their sexual orientation. The test, banned on August 7th 2012 by the Lebanese Order of Physicians, includes the forcible insertion of a metal egg-shaped object into the anal rectum, which supposedly tells if an individual had anal intercourse. Obviously, the test is a sham, as it fails to prove anything. Firstly, consensual anal intercourse does not leave permanent scarring or result in deformities of the anus or penis. Secondly, homosexuality, which is what the test is intended to prove, is not only about anal sex but is a much more complex concept, based on attraction, behaviour and identity.
In August 2012, the Lebanese police arrested 35 men (which is reported here, on the Daily Star website) at a cinema in the Bourj Hammoud district of Beirut, as they had received a tip-off that the men were watching homosexual pornography. All the men were subjected to the test and forced to pay the $85 which the test costs. Three of the men were later charged of ‘unnatural sex’ under the archaic and condemned Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code. Whatever the conviction, the anal probe still scarred all 35 men. The Lebanese Order of Physicians, politicians and human rights activists came out strongly against the tests; there were protests staged around Beirut, denouncing the tests of shame, as they came to be known. Apparently the “Provincetown of the Middle East” (a claim made by the New York Times) is only a “gay haven” for tourists, not for locals, and definitely not for refugees (which became evident after the Dekwaneh scandal).
The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) just released a position statement (http://lebmash.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/anal-tests/) on anal tests to assess someone’s sexual orientation. LebMASH has responded to the Legal Agenda’s report on shame tests still being performed in Lebanon, where 5 men recently were subjected to the test (in Arabic). LebMASH urges the Lebanese Order of Physicians (LOP) to discipline Dr. Ahmad Mokdad and offers to provide the LOP’s members with cultural competency training and scientifically sound educational sessions on the topic.
I, Jonathan Lawrence, thank Raynbow.info for hosting my post. I decry the lack of media attention to this story. There are regular reports in Western media concerning homosexuality and homosexual rights, yet these outrageous invasive and abusive tests, which can permanently damage an individual, both mentally and physically, have largely been ignored by Western media outlets.
Save the date: May 17th – The International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO)
Lebanon might not have a flashy gay parade with rainbow flags waving above our heads just yet. But many of us Lebanese, gay, straight or anywhere in between, are already actively engaged in a collective effort trying to raise awareness and fight homophobia.
Usually homophobia is just another by-product of ignorance. People remaining stuck with their pre-conceived ideas, their limited knowledge about how homosexuality plays out in real life. That’s where your stories, your personal experiences and your opinions can help a great deal.
Sharing some of your thoughts with the rest of us will help spread awareness within, as well as outside the community.
So here’s the deal: A coalition of Lebanese bloggers is asking everyone, gay or straight, to take a minute to think: How does homophobia affect you or someone you love? Write 150 words or less and email to firstname.lastname@example.org You will be advancing the cause more than you think!
Follow the buzz on Twitter using hashtag #LebIDAHO
Follow our reporting on Twitter @LebLGBTMonitor
Follow our reporting on Facebook Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor
Hey, are you straight? If so, then congratulations: you have access to a very different kind of privilege than that which most people generally talk about. People at AUB have the privilege of being literate (…well, most of us do – right, Mohamad Sibai?) and educated, but some of us walk around entirely unaware of just how easy we’ve got it as straight people on campus. No worries, Sibai made it all too clear that it’s time to burst that ignorant bubble. So, adapted from MIT’s “Heterosexual privilege checklist,” here’s a list of what privilege looks and feels like when you’re straight.
Heterosexual Privilege Checklist
On a daily basis as a heterosexual person,
- I am not asked to think about why I am straight or defend my heterosexuality.
- No matter where I am, I can be pretty sure that everyone around me will be comfortable with my sexual orientation.
- I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.
- I am not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my sexual orientation.
- I can go home from most meetings, classes, and conversations without feeling excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped or feared because of my sexual orientation.
- If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain my sexual orientation will be represented.
- I am guaranteed to find people of my sexual orientation represented in the AUB curriculum, faculty, and administration.
- I can easily find a religious community that will not exclude me for being heterosexual.
- My masculinity/femininity or general humanity is not challenged because of my sexual orientation.
- I have the privilege of being unaware of my heterosexual privilege.
We received the following alert from a Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor reader. The main post is public and can be found via a simple Google search. We still intended to de-identify the people involved because our goal is not to attack them but to expose the level of hatred and homophobia that is prevalent in “The Provincetown of the Middle East“.
This evidence is not only horrendous, it is dangerous. Besides the curses, bad language dehumanizing and demeaning content, the post contains direct threats against sexually nonconforming individuals: “I do not tolerate gay people! Let them stay away from me and they might be safe“. He did say: Might! So you never know!
“We have to remember that the closet is not only for lesbian and gay people. Many in our community are closeted when it comes to certain medical conditions like HIV status or cancer diagnosis, premarital sex, relationship between people from different religions or social class. Those people also go through similar coming out experience like we do. With them we share the same fight against discrimination and intolerance.”
Follow #LebIDAHO hashtag on Twitter.