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Hidden Identities, Broken Lives and No Access to Justice

Gender Equality & GBV - Lebanon - Advocacy

Hidden Identities, Broken Lives and No Access to Justice

Voices from LGBTQI+ People in Lebanon

Executive Summary

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) individuals in Lebanon remain one of the most marginalized and excluded groups from society. They are the targets of systemic discrimination, stigma, and abuse at home and across public settings, ranging from housing, healthcare and employment to education, hospitality, and shops.

Lebanon is often regarded as the “exception” to the Middle East, which is well known to have highly repressive regimes that restrict LGBTQI+ rights and condemn same-sex relations. Yet, Lebanon has a highly conservative and patriarchal society that is dominated by role of religion in politics and the media. These forces perpetuate stereotypes and false assumptions about LGBTQI+ people and propagates a culture of intolerance towards those perceived as non-conforming to tradition. Ongoing and relentless advocacy by LGBTQI+ groups and campaigners have led to progressive changes but it has come at a price with an increasing number of repressive acts against the LGBTQI+ community by Lebanon’s government.

The country’s legal and security framework institutionalizes discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals by criminalizing same-sex acts and non-conforming gender identities and expressions, continuing to perpetuate societal exclusion, marginalization, persecution, and “othering” of what society perceives to be “non-normative” sexualities and gender identities. The result is a chronic lack of access to justice, impairing LGBTQI+ individuals’ ability to challenge discrimination and abuse.

This report is based on research carried out by Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) in Lebanon. Through focus group discussions (FGDs), key informant interviews (KIIs) and an online survey, LAW gathered LGBTQI+ individuals’ experiences, views, and opinions on the discrimination and abuse they experience in private and public settings, and the significant challenges they face in accessing support and legal help for the harm and discrimination they have been subjected to. The research considered how COVID-19 and the Beirut Port explosion have further exacerbated LGBTQI+ individuals’ existing vulnerabilities, marginalization, and discrimination. Lebanese, permanent resident, refugees and undocumented/people with other status were included in the research.

LAW’s research reveals an alarming and shocking picture of lives that are virtually erased by constant discrimination and abuse at home and in public settings. LGBTQI+ individuals are deprived from their most basic rights, including the right to be treated with dignity, humanity, and respect. We also found that non-Lebanese LGBTQI+ individuals, especially refugees, suffer from double discrimination on the basis on their immigration status and their gender identity, amplifying their risks and experience of discrimination and abuse. Our research also revealed that systemic discrimination and abuse have created a mental health crisis for LGBTQI+ individuals who face high levels of isolation, lack confidence and empowerment. They live in constant fear and suffer from chronic anxiety, and have no choice but to negate their true selves to avoid being targeted and marginalized for who they are and who they love. Some see no choice but contemplating suicide due to overwhelming feelings of hopelessness.

Full report here.

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