Gay Pride organisers in Lebanon vow to proceed with festival despite public hostility

Organisers of the Arab world’s first gay pride festival have vowed to proceed with the celebration, despite religious figures forcing the closure of the first week of its events.

Proud Lebanon Director Bertho Makso said that Beirut Pride – which kicked off on Sunday with an exhibition on gender fluidity in fashion – will go ahead in spite of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon declaring “war on homosexuality.”

On Monday organisers had to cancel a seminar on discrimination against the LGBT community for “security reasons” after Muslim groups threatened to hold demonstrations outside the event.

Instead of focusing on a street parade as seen in homosexual-friendly Western countries, Beirut Pride will include film screenings, lectures and a party at one of the Middle East’s biggest nightclubs.

Lebanon generally takes a dim view of homosexuality but remains more tolerant towards LGBT issues than other Arab countries.

Lebanese law prohibits sexual acts that are “contrary to the order of nature”, which some interpret as serving as a “ban” on homosexuality, although LBGT campaigners argue this is not the case.

A 2007 poll showed that only 18 percent of Lebanese people believed “homosexuality should be accepted by society”, but pro-LGBT activism has grown across the country in recent years.

The practise of homosexuality is considered a major sin in Islam and there is consensus on this by reputable scholars of all Islamic sects.

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