LGBTI people in Lebanon fear they will be massacred if ISIS troops penetrate the country.
While the Islamic State fighters (also called ISIS) are currently focused on Syria and Iraq, they have already had skirmishes with Lebanese troops on the border.
And LGBTI people in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, are living in fear they will be targeted if ISIS does make a concerted attack on Lebanon.
Their eyes are now on the Bekaa Valley, a Christian-dominated area in the east of Lebanon where ISIS could break through.
Bertho Makso supports Syrian and Iraqi LGBTI refugees who have fled ISIS to Beirut, through his organization Proud Lebanon.
He’s witnessed for himself the wounds, both physical and psychological, they have left on their gay victims.
Makso told Gay Star News: ‘As gay people it is a terrifying situation. And it’s not just me, my friends I talk to are all afraid of this.
‘Personally I am closing everything and running away once they reach the Christian villages in the valley – it is one hour from there to Beirut.’
Hicham, another gay man in Beirut who didn’t want his full name used, told GSN: ‘From my point of view, once ISIS crosses the borders, I will be taking the first plane to Istanbul. Everybody will try to leave. But a lot of the gay community can’t afford it.
‘Once they are here we will be one of the targets because gay people are evil for them, so we should be killed.
‘We have a lot of dating applications and websites so I think it is very easy to find gay people and therefore to target them.’
Hicham pointed out there are already ISIS supporters throughout Lebanon who would unite with an invading force. As some LGBTI people in Beirut have lived open lives by the standards of the region, they will be known to their neighbors.
Cosette, the advocacy officer of Proud Lebanon, who also didn’t want her full name used, said their fears are not restricted to LGBTI people in the country.
‘ISIS is already a huge threat to any free human being, even if the person is a Muslim, to ISIS if you are not with them, this seems you are surely against them,’ she told GSN.
‘And the scariest part is there no way of communication with them, killing and eliminating are the only ways of communicating.
‘It is not only about LGBT people, anyone who is different from them and does not adopt their beliefs and practice is directly considered as an enemy and consequently will be “eliminated”.
‘I guess when it comes to ISIS, LGBT and any other person would have the same fear. We are talking about a group of terrorists who will spear no one from their brutality and criminality.’
Some analysts have suggested an all-out ISIS attack on Lebanon is unlikely; that it would be difficult to launch from their current bases and that the country would be hard to control if they did try to take it.
But it is plausible they would be able to overcome Lebanese resistance. The Lebanese Army is more lightly armed than others in the Arab world, Makso explained, although many of the country’s citizens are trained in guerilla war.