Police briefly detained the organizer of Beirut Pride and then forced him to cancel all remaining events.
Beirut Pride became the first Arab country to host a pride event last year but police detained organizer Hadi Damien on Tuesday.
The 2018 Beirut Pride started on Saturday (12 May), but police took Damien following public complaints about the event.
In a statement on its website, Damien, said the Pride events had gone very well until police called him in for an interview at about 11am on Tuesday.
‘Beirut Pride launched its initiative to keep families together to accommodate parents and children. We celebrated the evening at the opening of Beirut Pride, which attracted a huge number of attendees,’ he said.
Other events that were held before the police shutdown included; a dance show, a forum about trans issues, exploring gender identity and the launch of a Corporate Pledge.
Pledge not to Pride
Damien said police treated him well and did not abuse him ‘physically or verbally’ during his 12 hour detention. He said police dragged him for questioning because they had received incorrect information about Beirut Pride’s objective.
‘(But) I can not confirm this about all the detainees who have bruises and signs that they said were hit marks,’ he said.
‘We gave police a briefing about Beirut Pride, its meaning and initiatives, and to correct the misinformation and address the important details.’
Police then forced Damien to sign a pledge to immediately stop all Pride events. If not, police would have charged him with, ‘encouraging debauchery and offending public decency’. That charge carries a jail term of up to two years.
‘This was a warning…and the (police’s) aim was to stop the events,’ Damien’s lawyer, Layal Saqr, told AFP.
‘I advised him to sign. We want him outside not behind bars.’
Even though Lebanon is arguably the most open Arab country to LGBTI issues, homosexuality is still illegal there. Last year’s Pride events still encountered disruptions, but managed to go ahead anyway.