Municipal police rounded clubbers outside Beirut’s prime gay club, Ghost, arrested and transported them back in their car boots to the police station where they were forced to strip naked, photographed, beaten and humiliated.
According to Roy Khouri, Gay Middle East’s Beirut correspondent, all the detainees (five gay Syrians and a Lebanese trans woman) were severly beaten and transported in the boot of officers’ cars in the early hours of Sunday (21 April).
Khouri told Gay Star News: ‘The trans said she was beaten and humiliated and has visible blue markings from the beatings she endured, while others also complained about being beaten and humiliated.
‘Antoine Shakhtoura, Lebanese mayor of Dekwaneh, where the club resides gave direct orders to these actions.’
On Monday (22 April) Shakhtoura ordered the club closed posting a note that it was due to it ‘promoting prostitution, drugs and homosexuality’ and detailing the full names of the people arrested, including their residence, and date of birth.
During an interview yesterday (23 April) on LBC TV Shakhtoura defended his actions saying: ‘I saw 25 men outside, or what looked like boys and men. I went inside… I saw people kissing, touching each other, and a man wearing a skirt. These homosexual acts that are happening… are scandalous sexual acts.
‘Of course we made them take off their clothes.
‘We saw a scandalous situation and we had to know what these people were. Is it a woman or a man? Turned out to be a noss rejel (half-man). I do not accept this in Dekwaneh.’
Throughout the interview the mayor used derogatory words ‘liwat’ (faggot) and ‘noss rejel’ (half-man), although he later denied any prostitution took place, despite the original allegation.
Referring to the Lebanese civil war Shaktoura added: ‘Dekwaneh has always been a fortress of fortitude.
‘We didn’t fight for and defend this land and our honor for some people, with all due respect to them, since people might mention human rights and stuff, to practice these things in my neighborhood, Dekwaneh.’
Khouri added: ‘The abuse is shocking and against both national and international law.
‘The arrest, and detention without a warrant from the Lebanese police force is illegal and can not be carried out my the municipal police whose real task is to look after public gardens, roads and parking.
‘On top of that the six were outed with their full names and details circulating which can put them in grave danger.’
A Lebanese lawyer told Gay Star News: ‘What is most shocking is the blatant human rights violation which are breaching the Lebanese civil code and international conventions on human rights.’
Georges Azzi, the executive director for the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, told GSN: ‘It is obvious that Shakhtoura is trying to get some attention by targetting vulnerable people, gay, trans and Syrian refugees.
‘Human rights isn’t just “stuff”, gay, trans and refugees are human and have rights.’
Syrian LGBT people who have managed to flee their country into Lebanon face discrimination and stigma.
Khouri added: ‘They also risk violating the 7pm curfew imposed on them by going out and trying forget and enjoy themselves in the occasional night out, they regularly get harassed here, but this is beyond contempt.’
Watch Shakhtoura defending his actions in an interview with LBC TV (in Arabic):