Of all the countries in the Middle East, many regard Lebanon as more progressive in regards to LGBTI rights.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal under Penal Code 534. However, the code has rarely been enacted in the past ten years and LGBTI citizens are beginning to live more open lives.
An underground Beirut Pride festival, consisting of a series of arts-based events, took place last year and will return again this year next month. Last month, trans inclusive feminists in the country called for trans rights during an International Women’s Day March.
Now, some electoral candidates in the forthcoming 6 May elections are openly calling for the repeal of Penal Code 534.
Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality
The Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFEMENA) has launched a website listing all the Parliamentarian Candidates. Where known, it indicates if they support or oppose advancing LGBTI rights.
To coincide with the website, social media videos appeared yesterday. The first one, below, is aimed at Lebanon citizens living abroad. They will be able to remotely cast a vote in the elections for the first time.
Citizens of the country elect Parliamentarians, who then elect the President. The President assigns the Prime Minister, who forms a cabinet. The current President is Michel Aoun and the Prime Minister is Saad Hariri.
Following political unrest in the country in recent years, the May elections feature a number of new, younger candidates, some of whom are standing independently. Several are promoting civil rights, including women’s rights, civil marriage and LGBTI rights.