According to new reports, Lebanon has become the latest Arab nation to go “rainbow hunting” after instructions from Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi.
Several Arab countries have started initiatives in June, which is International Pride Month, to find and suppress any support for the LGBTQ community. Lebanese security forces received a letter from Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi a week ago instructing them to disperse any activities that “promote” homosexuality, making Lebanon the most recent country to join the campaign.
According to the “very urgent” letter, police and security forces should “take the necessary measures to ban any celebrations, meetings, or gatherings aiming to promote this phenomenon and to report the results back” in light of the “spread of calls on social media to organize parties and events promoting homosexuality in Lebanon… and considering the negative consequences brought by this phenomenon on individuals and society.”
It is “perplexing why, in a country whose citizens have no electricity, no medication, no access to clean water, no social security, and 30 % unemployment, the minister thought to prioritize LGBTQ events as the biggest threat to national security,” according to Helem (Arabic for Dream), an NGO that supports LGBTQ people throughout North Africa and Southwest Asia.
“The deliberate act of inciting moral sexual panic and targeting LGBTQ individuals is a very old, superficial, and commonly used tactic by failed regimes to draw attention away from economic and political disasters,” the organization said.
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Helem announced it was canceling a demonstration scheduled for Sunday because of concern for the safety of those who were to participate, despite the fact that Lebanon is generally seen as being more LGBTQ-friendly than most Arab countries.
Some of the neighboring countries have focused on LGBTQ support’s less obvious manifestations.
Last week, Kuwait’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry posted on social media asking people to report any products with a rainbow flag on them so that officials may take the offending goods off the market.
The ministry published a guideline to distinguish between a “normal rainbow” and the LGBTQ rainbow in order to prevent misunderstandings. It claimed in its tweet, which included the hashtag “participate in censorship,” that a rainbow that “violates public morals” had six colors as opposed to the “normal” rainbow’s seven colors.
Despite the ministry’s attempts to clarify their request, Kuwaitis soon began tweeting images of various items, including buildings, that were rainbow-adorned and enquiring as to whether they breached “public morals.”
In response to the ministry’s request, one user sent a photo indicating an anti-bacterial hand spray. “Not a violation,” the ministry stated plainly in response.
“But thanks for your concern.”, the Twitter user responded, adding that he disagreed with the decision.
Early in June, officials in Saudi Arabia began a very identical campaign.
Toys, handbags, and accessories in rainbow colors were seized by authorities, according to a video uploaded on social media by the Ministry of Commerce, because they had “symbols and connotations that encourage homosexuality and contradict nature.”
Early in June, Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry summoned the acting chargé d’affaires of the U.S Embassy over a tweet the embassy sent out in honor of Pride Month. The message featured a quote from President Joe Biden and a rainbow flag.
In a statement, Kuwait’s foreign ministry said that the American diplomat had been instructed to “not publish such tweets” by the embassy.
The fact that similar messages were issued by the U.S embassies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates but received no apparent notice suggests that language may be a factor. Both English and Arabic were used in the tweet from the U.S embassy in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry’s statement criticizing the U.S embassy was only visible in Arabic.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the crackdown on flag-adorned goods in Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago. She said she was unaware of the specific actions but noted that the U.S. government worked “around the globe to protect LGBTQI+ persons from violence and abuse, criminalization, discrimination, and stigma and — and empower local LGBTQI+ movements and persons.”
She noted that the Biden administration views “human rights as being universal” and that any “official concerns” were always brought up with “governments, both principal [publicly] and privately.”
In their 2020 report on “State Sponsored Homophobia” (pdf below) globally, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association included Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon as three of the 69 countries with laws prohibiting homosexual behavior.
According to the report, Saudi Arabia is one of six UN member nations where “the death penalty is the legally prescribed punishment for consensual same-sex sexual acts.”
Read the report given below: