Lebanon TV channel outs men arrested for public gay sex

Two men who were caught yesterday having sex in car in Beirut were arrested and publicly outed

Lebanon TV channel outs men arrested for public gay sex
17 August 2012

Two Lebanese men were detained last night (16 August) on suspicion of’ indecent acts’ in the Ashrafieh neighbourhood, Beirut.

The men, aged 42 and 22, were reported to having been caught having gay sex in a car.

Lebanese Murr TV (MTV) has publicly outed them, publishing their full names and ages.

According to the Lebanese Ministry of Information the two men were handed over to the vice squad upon request from the judicial authorities.

The Ministry of Information specifically mentioned the word ‘sodomy’.

It is unclear whether the men will be accused of public indecency as well as violating article 534.

Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code has, in some cases, been used against men engaging in gay sex.

The article outlaws sexual relations ‘contradicting the laws of nature’ and offenders may be sentenced to up to one year in prison.

In a clear violation of the right to privacy, Lebanon’s MTV has leaked the full names and age of the men, with the station claiming it received the names from the police.

Speaking to Gay Star News, human rights advocate Georges Azzi said: ‘While public indecency is indeed not something that can be condoned, it is curious why the Ministry of Information made and the police have made this case so public.

‘Publicly outing the men in a small country like Lebanon will put them at great risk, as their immediate, extensive families, the communities and their places of work would very likely be informed sooner or later.

‘It is also curious that the case is being promoted by the Ministry of Information and the police, and one cannot help but speculate about the timing.’

Many Lebanese have been commenting on Facebook and Twitter, speculating that the deliberate leak of the alleged gay sex between the two men is designed to incite public outrage and media sensationalism.

A Lebanese LGBT activist who wished to remain anonymous told Gay Star News: ‘Why are the authorities highlighting and making so much noise about this case when there are so many greater concerns right now in Lebanon.  

‘Besides I doubt if that both the authorities and MTV pay much attention to cases of straight people having sex in their cars.’

Azzi, who is also one of the founders Helem, the Lebanese LGBT advocacy group, added: ‘The timing and outing could be interpreted in a number of ways.

‘This maybe an attempt to dampen the public and media support we are getting for LGBT rights following last month’s case.

‘Lastly, it may be a signal from the authorities that whilst the anal probes exams may not be as easily used against LGBT as before, there are other ways to oppress LGBT people in Lebanon.’

Helem’s lawyer is now investigating the case of the two men and how they could be helped, as well as the legal ramifications of their public naming and outing.

Last month, 36 men were subjected to and forced to pay for anal probe exams to determine if they engaged in anal sex after being arrested in a police raid on a porn cinema where men meet for gay sex.

Two months ago, MTV televised Enta Hor programs where celebrity Joe Maalouf ran an exposé on porn cinemas where gay people meet for sex, which appeared to spark the arrests.

The case and its exposure on MTV caused widespread condemnation throughout the Lebanese media and human rights advocates both at home and abroad.

In an attempt to halt the anti-gay sensationalism, presenter Joe Maalouf was publicly outed after being approached several times by LGBT activists pleading he toned down his hate rhetoric.

The channel was widely criticised for inciting homophobia, an allegation it denied and said it supports gay rights and is against article 534.

In addition, the Lebanese medical association informed doctors that they would face disciplinary action if any attempt to carry out such exams in the future.

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