BtVldqMIUAErydj (1)Lebanon: Two gay men from Lebanon are seeking international support and taking recourse to crowd sourcing to help gay refugees streaming into their country from neighboring war-torn Syria.

Their efforts are portrayed in a yet to be finished new documentary that has set up a campaign on Indiegogo.com.

The film entitled “The Bears of Beirut” is about Beirut-based Bertho and Hixam, who recently established NGO Proud Lebanon, offering a community centre for many Syrian refugees seeking shelter in Beirut.

The documentary says Proud Lebanon is struggling to provide help to Lebanon’s new refugees because t is hard hit to finance the much needed medical care, psychological assistance and transit to a gay-friendly country.

Proud Lebanon was founded with a view to help all the new LGBT arrivals who cannot find help from the already overloaded public service system in Beirut, according to edgeonthenet.com.

Beirut is a relatively liberal city in a very conservative region. The city is even has a community of gay bears that live somewhat openly.

Bertho, one of the subjects in the film, and a leading light in the local gay bear community, runs the centre despite many freedoms being taken away from his community in recent years.

“This film is their story — about community, about tolerance, and about what is next for Lebanon and the entire Middle East,” said the edgeonthenet.com report.

With over 1 million Syrians arriving in Lebanon in the last two years, Bertho and Hixam are having to choose only the most dire of the new arrivals to Beirut.

“Stories about other LGBT people who struggle with life decisions they can’t control is something very close to my heart,” says Producer/Director Rick Jacobs, a popular entertainment producer from Sweden.

Public can join the crowd sourcing campaign for “The Bears Of Beirut” that aims to give them a view of LGBT people in the region and how the small bear community in Beirut is helping those in need despite challenges.

Human Rights Watch says gay Syrians are in dire need of basic levels of protection and assistance as many gay men in Syria are threatened not only by the Syrian Army and Islamist organizations and rebels but also from family members.

Since fighting first began three years, more than 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the escalating conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule.

Though traditionally seen as one of the more open countries in West Asia, Lebanon still imposes significant legal and social discrimination against gay and transgender individuals.

By creating allies in government and working with Lebanese judges and lawyers, LGBT activists are trying to render ineffective Article 534 of Lebanon’s penal code that prohibits same-sex relations.

Source: edgeonthenet.com

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