Lebanon has become the first Arab country to allow Gay Pride Week to take place – but plans for the opening event were scuppered after Islamists threatened violence.
Proud Lebanon was due to kick off in the capital city of Beirut on Sunday (May 14) with a landmark run of festivities but the event was shut down after extremists made the threats.
The gay rights movement has steadily grown in Beirut and Pride there will include an exhibition on gender fluidity in fashion.
Proud Lebanon president Bertho Makso told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “It’s really amazing. It’s a big achievement. It’s a bigger exposure. Before we used to be individual NGOs, here and there, doing activities, but now it’s a whole week of activities taking place around the city. It will reach more people and spread more tolerance.”
Support for Pride in Lebanon gathered pace in January when a landmark case saw a judge rule that a same-sex couple could not be prosecuted for homosexuality as it was not, he said, a crime under Lebanese law.
The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia took place on May 17, in the middle of Beiruit Pride week.
Homosexual acts are still punishable by up to a year in prison in Lebanon.