Beirut anti-homophobia event pulled after Salafist group's threat

#InsideLebanon

The rest of the week of events is going ahead, including film screenings and a lecture on how to defend oneself

The launch party of the Beirut Pride week was cancelled after security threats (screengrab)
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Tuesday 16 May 2017 8:27 UTC
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The first event in Beirut Pride week was cancelled after the hosting venue received threats from a religious group, organisers said on Monday.

Bertho Makso, the director of the "Proud Lebanon" group which was organising the party, told MEE that a Salafist group had called on authorities to prevent the Sunday event - and then issued a second statement directly threatening the venue.

“On Saturday morning we started getting information that some of the radical groups were not happy,” said Makso, naming the Council of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon.

Later that day, Makso said, the hotel venue called to say that Lebanese authorities said it would be better if the event no longer went ahead, due to "serious security threats".

The event was due to kick off a week off screenings, lectures and parties, described by the Beirut Pride organisers as "a collaborative platform that takes a positive stance against hate and discrimination", including a drag workshop. 

The Salafist group argued that the event was in violation of the law, which prohibits "sexual intercourse against nature" – but several judges in Lebanon have recently ruled that this does not include homosexuality.

Makso said he was disappointed that the local authorities were not prepared to offer protection for the event.

"We believe the authorities did not want to protect us."

The interior ministry and the hotel have not yet responded for requests for comment. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.