On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), EuroMed Rights stresses its solidarity with organisations and LGBTQI+ activists combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity across the Euro-Mediterranean region, particularly in Lebanon.
In Lebanon, a grim record for LGBTQI+ people’s rights
The 2019 socioeconomic crisis worsened the living conditions of vulnerable communities in Lebanon. Among those, LGBTQI+ communities suffer from discrimination, poverty, unemployment and lack of protection. The Lebanese Lira, which has gradually depreciated over the past three years, is heading for further collapse, making it extremely difficult to purchase necessities. Access to health is also a challenge as affordable medical healthcare and medicine is scarce. Their distribution is often complicated by wide-spread discriminatory attitudes towards individuals with non-normative sexual orientation or gender expression.
On a political level, the Lebanese government only seems to accentuate discriminations against LGBTQI+ people, as attested by its recent acts. The CLDH, a member of EuroMed Rights, observed and documented severe human rights violations targeting LGBTIQ+ people in the past year. As an example, as denounced by CLDH and EuroMed Rights, on June 24th, 2022, ahead of Pride Month, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi called on the Internal Security Forces (ISF) to take the necessary measures to “prevent any kind of event, celebration or gathering” of the LGBTQI+ community or “promoting” homosexuality, violating freedom of expression. In November 2022, Bassam Mawlawi sent a similar letter to the ISF and General Security to ban a LGBTQI+ event scheduled in Beirut’s Achrafieh neighbourhood. He cited a risk of “security incidents”, stating that he “learned that a group in Achrafieh was planning to prevent this event”. Following this letter, new hate crimes have been recorded, notably in Saida district, where Anti-LGBTQI+ movement put up billboards mentioning “Fotra” (arabic term for “by nature”) and the sentence “not normal”.
Make discriminations more visible to better combat them
This situation is not unique to Lebanon. In several countries of the MENA region, same-sex conduct or expression of the gender identity can be punished by arrest and imprisonment. Freedom of expression and registration for LGBTQI+ associations are almost impossible. In the EU, anti-LGBTQI+ stances are fuelled by influential political leaders and governments, such as in Hungary, Poland, and Italy as is evidenced by their recent push in defense of “traditional families”. Among the measures taken, Italian government asked the city of Milan to stop registering the children of same-sex parents. The Italian Senate, led by Meloni’s party, rejected a regulation on the recognition of the rights of children including those of same-sex couples proposed by the European Commission. Finally, they also rejected the idea of a European parenthood certificate that would ensure their parenthood is recognised throughout the Union.
Despite these discriminations, solidarity between countries can be noted, as in April 2023, fifteen EU governments have joined the European Commission lawsuit against Hungary over a controversial anti-LGBTQI+ law, also condemned by the European Parliament.
Civil society in the Euro-Mediterranean continue to mobilise against such stances. EuroMed Rights and its members continue to report backlashes to gender equality in the Euro-Mediterranean region through the gender backlash map and are fully committed to improve the situation. Launched in 2021, the Backlash map aims at monitoring political, legislative, judicial decisions that further dilute women’s and LGBTQI+ people’s rights in the region. Everyone can report backlashes through the form available here. This tool participates to make visible and denounce the growing backlashes to LGBTQI+ rights and the discriminations embedded in the laws, faced in practical terms by individuals.
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