Lebanon arrests 36 men in gay porn cinema

36 men arrested in Beirut, Lebanon for alleged gay debauchery after TV show unveiled activity in porn cinemas

Lebanon arrests 36 men in gay porn cinema
29 July 2012

Thirty six men were arrested yesterday (28 July) in a porn cinema in Beirut, Lebanon, Gay Star News can reveal.

Police raided Plaza Cinema, Beirut, which screens porn films and is famous for being a cruising spot, arresting 36 people including the owner, reported the Lebanese Murr TV (MTV) channel.

MTV’s report was written in a highly inflammatory language designed to stir up anti-gay feelings.

It called the men ‘shozoz’, a highly derogatory term in Arabic roughly translated to ‘perverts’ in English, and alleged the cinema was a ‘safe haven’ for prostitution and debauchery.

In an attempt to fuel public outrage the report stated that the man behind the Colorado cinema shooting was gay – which is an allegation without any evidence behind it. It said in Lebanon the issue is the transformation of cinemas into a place of immorality prostitution and perversion.

It is unclear if the men, who ‘are mainly gay’, according to MTV, are still being detained or have been released.

In addition the cinema was shut down by the police.

Lebanese activists are still unclear on what grounds the men were arrested, but they suspect that ‘public indecency’ and Article 534 of the Lebanese penal code were used to arrest them.

Article 534 prohibits having sexual relations ‘contradicting the laws of nature’, which is punishable by up to a year in prison.

In 2009 Judge Mounir Suleiman from the Batroun court district ruled that consensual homosexual relations are not against nature and thus cannot be prosecuted under article 534, but it may be that in this case the article had nevertheless been used.

Helem, the LGBT advocacy charity in Lebanon, is now seeking legal advice and is planning for direct action.

The arrest comes after a concerted anti-gay campaign championed by reporter and celebrity presenter Joe Maalouf, in his program ‘Enta Horr’ (‘You are free’) that is screened by MTV.

On 8 May MTV screened the program featuring an undercover camera filming men having sex in a porn cinema in the city of Tripoli, whilst exposing their identity to the public.

Maalouf called upon the police and authorities to act against the shozoz (perverts), debauchery and prostitution which they practice in ‘such places.’

He also mentioned that there are several other cinemas that practice this ‘debauchery’.

Helem condemned the program saying that it violated the right of privacy and basic human rights, let alone being unprofessional and unethical by the use of inflammatory and negative language. It called upon Maalouf, and the station to apologise and retract the broadcast.

Maalouf, however, did not relent his homophobic campaign and mentioned on several occasions other cinemas allow ‘debauchery’, perversion and prostitution.

A few weeks ago he also alleged that the authorities are protecting the perverts and the cinemas and called for law enforcement action against these cinemas. This instigated the raid on Saturday.

Maalouf is widely believed in the Lebanese LGBT community to be a closeted gay man, although Gay Star News can not verify if he is truly gay. However his actions have now lead to him being outed.

Commenting on the news, Georges Azzi, the founder of Helem and executive director for the Arab Foundation For Freedoms And Equality stated on his Facebook page: ‘After the call made by Joe Maalouf in his program "inta horr”, yesterday the police raided plaza cinema in Burj Hammoud, a gay cruising cinema.

‘I do not know what is more sad, the fact that Joe Maalouf is gay (and well known by the gay community) and he is working for a conservative TV station playing the morality police, or the fact that a closeted gay kid with a stupid program can mobilize the police like no other movement could.’

Watch Maalouf’s rant on 8 May program ‘Enta Horr’ (from 00:42:00) in Arabic:

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Over 20,000 march in Belfast for marriage equality

Northern Ireland is the last part of the UK which has not yet legalised gay marriage
No thumbnail available

Kim Kardashian doesn't 'fully understand' stepdad Bruce Jenner's transition

'But I don’t even think we have to ... I think he is prepared for it'
No thumbnail available

Gay activists implant 'perverted feelings' in kids, says Uganda minister

Ugandan Minister for Ethics Simon Lokodo justifies arrests of gay activists during raids in February and June
No thumbnail available

X Factor star Sam Bailey to blow the roof off Manchester Pride’s Supersonic fundraiser

The prison guard turned songstress will headline this year’s red carpet, celebrity-studded fundraiser for LGBTI and HIV charities in Manchester
No thumbnail available

Lesbian hockey fan breaks ice with half-time proposal

Girlfriends rooting for opposing teams get engaged during ice hockey half-time show in Canada
No thumbnail available

Russian man jailed after torturing gay teens and driving them to suicide faces new charges

Maxim Martsinkevich, the leader of the anti-LGBTI group Occupy Pedophilia, could now face a longer time in jail
No thumbnail available

Safety fears for Mr Gay World's first black Africans

Fears for safety of Mr Gay World's black African contestants, as Zimbabwean pulls out and Ethiopia's entry receives death threats
No thumbnail available

Chile: Murder trial begins for Daniel Zamudio killers

Life sentences are being sought for four suspects charged torturing and beating a 24-year-old Chilean gay man
No thumbnail available

Deadline looms for London gay pride bids

People interested in running LGBT pride in London have just three days for the deadline for bids closes
No thumbnail available

Catholic cardinal: Gay people who want children are ‘irresponsible’

Another senior figure in the church has lashed out at gay people who wish to marry and start families