Middle East / North Africa

Anti-gay Lebanon: 27 arrests in raid on Turkish bath

Logo of Helem

Logo of Helem

Lebanon’s national police and security force raided a Turkish bath in the Hamra-Concord section of Beirut on Aug. 9 and arrested 27 men.

The men were questioned about their sexual orientation and held for at least three days without being told the charges against them, a group of human rights and LGBT rights organizations said.

The organizations have protested the actions and demanded the men’s immediate release.

The raid and arrests by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) occurred when “no public sexual act was taking place at Agha Hammam, and the investigation at the police station revolved mainly around the detainees’ alleged homosexuality,” the protesters stated.

The following press release about the incident is the collaborative work of the Lebanese LGBT organization Helem, the Arab Foundation for Freedom and Equality (AFE), the regional HIV/AIDS advocacy network M-Coalition, the Marsa Sexual Health Clinic, and the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health LebMASH:

Map of Lebanon

Map of Lebanon

On Saturday night the 9th of August 2014, the ISF raided the Agha Hammam [Turkish bath] that is located in the area of Hamra-Concord. According to Col. Tony Haddad from the Hbeish police station, the raid followed the arrest of an individual who pointed to the Agha Hammam as a gathering place for men who are seeking sexual encounters with other men.

The incident came to our attention on Monday night 11th of August and we initiated an investigation of the reasons behind the raid and the status of the detained. We were able to confirm the arrest of 27 men who were present at the venue. Among the arrested men were the owner of the Hammam, the employees and several clients. All the men were still held in custody at Hbeish police station at the time this press release was written; four days following their arrest.

According to the information that Col. Haddad provided us with and which we cannot confirm beyond his words, Hbeish personnel investigated the detainees and their files have been transferred to the General Prosecutor awaiting charges.

When asked, Col. Haddad denied that any of the detainees were subjected to any physical or verbal violence or abuse – nor to the anal probe test – throughout the investigation.

Col. Haddad also informed us that the investigators were able to obtain confirmations from some of the detainees concerning their sexual orientation.

Based on this information, we contacted the General Prosecutor Bilal Dinnawi to follow up on the charges. Mr. Dinnawi told us that overall the General Prosecution is not interested in charging the detainees with article 534 [which provides for up to one year in prison for “any sexual intercourse against nature.”]

However, in this particular case Mr. Dinawi confirmed that he might charge the detainees under public indecency article 521.

We made contact with the detainees who expressed their discomfort and confusion regarding the process of the investigation and the charges.

It has also come to our attention that at the time of the raid no public sexual act was taking place at Agha Hammam, and the investigation at the police station revolved mainly around the detainees’ alleged homosexuality.

We denounce this incident as a case of homophobic practice that aims to police the sexual rights and liberties of the individuals involved and we call on the General Prosecutor and Hbeish police station to respect the dignity of the detainees and their rights to their sexual bodies.

We also specifically denounce the use or the implication of use of anal tests and we want to stress the physical and mental harm that such treatment could cause.

We call for the immediate release of all the detainees from under charges which violate their sexual and bodily rights and integrity. We will follow up on the cases as needed.

For more info please contact helem: director@helem.net

 

16 thoughts on “Anti-gay Lebanon: 27 arrests in raid on Turkish bath

  1. Pingback: Report: Lebanon targets gay men in 3 raids, 45 arrests | 76 CRIMES

  2. I find it repulsive knowing that in Lebanon there’s a thriving gay community and they are doing nothing about this especially people in power, lawyers and legislators. The media is mostly plenty of ass kissers and lickers and no one is addressing the issue in putting lebanon into an LGBT friendly country. Obviously the lebanese stick to their religion more than their human rights. ridiculous country we are.

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  3. and singers and models in that country are doing what exactly? they are arresting people in a private setting having sex? in a hammam? why not the saunas in Gyms as well? it doesn’t stop politicians from being gay themselves yet a media prick can abuse boys and girls. this country is going to the dogs. Where are human rights activists? are the LGBT in Lebanon really active?

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  4. As long as state and religion is not dealt with in Lebanon no change will happen, no LGBT rights can take effect. Never it will as long as state and religion are part of the system. The Lebanese do not want the change. if they wanted that they would have done that ages ago.

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  5. Thank god i left this country that is so beautiful in its nature and so ugly with its people. the people in lebanon are turning it into a dumb. I had no proper equal rights as a woman nor as lesbian nor as a human being. The politicians and those who vote for them are full of it. They don’t care about human rights do you expect them to care about an LGBT community? I agree this country is going to the dogs.

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  6. The Lebanese pretend to say they are modern and open to everything but they have plenty of homophobes. Plenty of closeted married men and women. Plenty of homophobic slurs and bullying. Let’s talk about the army knowing that there’s enough LGBT people in politics and in every part of the lebanese society. If this society wanted a change they should move their asses and helped those who are currently arrested. But no, they have to make an example just because someone possible may have a vendetta against homosexuals. the people do not want to UNITE for any cause yet alone the LGBT community divided itself politically. How ironic. Evryone want to keep their religious divisions among them, therefore no change will come. all they care is about is sex without the freedom of enjoying that. i’m filing to leave lebanon and i can’t wait to get the hell out of here. i’ve had it with the mess we are living in. I do not see a positive change living among a society that is hypercritical towards itself and its surrounding countries.

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  7. What is happening in lebanon is not a first. I am not surprised. The whole arabic world sucks big time when it comes to such brutal arrests that’s soul purpose is to humiliate people and possibly extortion. I’m glad i’m not in Lebanon anymore. I’m sad to hear such stories more horrified to see that no one is doing something about it especially those who can make a difference. People are busy with their scams in that country more than helping others. I’ve had my fights i need a life to live. happy to have moved on and i’m a lebanese gay jew too ! take that :)

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