Responding to the violent attack by Jnoud El-Rab, a far-right Christian group, against an LGBTI-friendly bar in Beirut yesterday, Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East & North Africa, said:
“Last night’s attack on Madame Om, a bar considered to be a safe space for the LGBTI community, marked an alarming escalation in the attacks against LGBTI people that have followed troubling remarks by high-level politicians and religious figures. The authorities must ensure that the attackers are held accountable and demonstrate that such acts have no place in a country invested in upholding human rights.
“Lebanon’s constitution guarantees equality, free expression, and free assembly for everyone – and these rights must be respected. What happened at Madame Om last night offered an ominous sign of how the situation of the LGBTI people is deteriorating in the country.
“The Lebanese authorities must immediately stop creating an environment conducive for discrimination and violence against the LGBTI community to be perpetuated. Crucially, the government should ensure that everyone is protected from violence, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
What happened at Madame Om last night offered an ominous sign of how the situation of the LGBTI people is deteriorating in the country. The Lebanese authorities must immediately stop creating an environment conducive for discrimination and violence against the LGBTI.Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East & North Africa
Videos of the attack, reviewed by Amnesty International, show the assailants destroying furniture outside the bar, beating people who tried to leave the bar, and threatening the owner with more violence if they continued to “promote homosexuality”. The assailants, who identified themselves as “Jnoud El-Rab” in the videos, also chanted homophobic slurs and said that LGBTI people are “satanic” and have no place in Lebanon.
The owner of the bar told Amnesty International that when the Internal Security Forces (ISF) arrived at the scene, they prevented the aggressors from entering the bar and aided some guests in their attempts to leave the bar, but they did not stop the attack or arrest any of the assailants.
In recent weeks, Lebanon’s political and religious leaders have intensified their campaign against the LGBTI community, with the head of a prominent political party calling for LGBTI people to be killed, the culture minister attempting to ban the movie Barbie on grounds that it ‘contradicted morals and values’ and requesting that the media use the term “sexual perversion” to describe homosexuality, and the education minister banning a boardgame in schools because it depicted a rainbow.