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Lebanon LGBT event cancelled after 'threats from religious figures'

It was the second year in a row Proud Lebanon cancelled a pro-tolerance event [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2017

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The Proud Lebanon group had planned to host journalists, artists and doctors at a hotel in Beirut at an event to focus on discrimination against the LGBT community.
A weekend seminar in Beirut to promote LGBT rights has been cancelled after "threats" from religious figures, its organisers said on Monday.

The Proud Lebanon group had planned to host journalists, artists and doctors at a hotel in Beirut at an event to focus on discrimination against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.

"The Association of Muslim Scholars threatened to hold protests in front of the hotel, which finally cancelled the event," Proud Lebanon director Bertho Makso told AFP.

The conservative group posted what it called "the last warning" on its Facebook page on Sunday, demanding that the interior ministry ban the conference which it labelled a "crime against virtue".

"If the authorities do not live up to their role, they will have to face the consequences," it said, warning of a "mobilisation of all those who care about virtue and honour... to forbid this seminar".

Makso said the hotel took the decision to cancel for security reasons.

"There were real threats," he said. "We then thought of holding the event in a public place, but who could guarantee the safety of the participants?"

The theologians welcomed the cancellation.

The conference, entitled "No matter who they love, they remain my children" was to have focused on the importance of family support for LGBT children.

Planned ahead of the May 17 International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), it was to have included the screening of a documentary collecting the testimonies of LGBT victims of discrimination in Lebanon.

It was the second year in a row that Proud Lebanon has cancelled a pro-tolerance event.

In 2016, it abandoned plans for an LGBT rights meeting with artists and journalists after coming under pressure from Christian religious authorities.

"The persecutions need to stop. Sexual tendencies are a private matter," said Makso.

While Lebanon is considered more tolerant of sexual diversity than other Arab countries, the police regularly raid gay bars and other LGBT-friendly spaces.

Homosexuals are often the target of jokes, including on television.

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