2014-08-14-LEBANON-thumbBeirut: Police in Lebanon across the country are conducting search and raid operations  targeting gay men and arresting them.

The operation began Aug 9 when police arrested 27 men at the Agha Hammam Turkish bath in the Hamra-Concord area of Beirut for alleged “gay sex” and “indecency.”

Six of those have since been released while the 21 others remained jailed.  Sixteen of the these have pleaded with Helem, Lebanon’s LGBTQI advocacy organization for legal help and can only be released after the payment of a substantial bail, reports huffingtonpost.co.uk.

Police then conducted raids Aug 14, with 18 men arrested at two different locations.  One raid occurred at the Sheherazade Hammam Turkish bath in the Burj Hammoud neighborhood of Beirut even before it opened its doors to the public.

Unconfirmed reports suggest another raid on a private home in the northern city of Tripoli, where gay men were meeting. Seventeen people were arrested there.

A group of human rights and LGBT rights organizations have protested the action branding it a “homophobic practice” and demanded the men’s immediate release.

“The men who frequent such spaces are usually working class or poor and cannot afford going to a hotel or much less have a holiday home, or pay a substantial bail. Dr. Hasan Abdessamad, president of Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health,  was quoted as saying in the huffingtonpost.co.uk report.

“They are often not out and the police has now put their lives at risk because their families and communities will be informed, and are usually not very tolerant of gays” he said asking “Why are authorities targeting poor gay men, if this was a campaign about ‘public decency’ why were only these establishments selected?”

According to Abdessamad such police action could be the governemnt’s way of distracting from the current fragile nature of Lebanon’s security and where they can “be seen to be doing something by targeting vulnerable and even voiceless population which is unpopular with the general public.”

MTV, one of Lebanon’s main TV station, has alleged that the raids were on places used for “debauchery” and “perversion.”

Same-sex relations is a criminal offence in Lebanon which Article 534 of the country’s legal code prohibiting it under relations that “contradict the laws of nature.”

Doctors hired by the police’s “Moral Protection Bureau” are known to resort to a humiliating test involving forcefully inserting an egg-shaped metal object into the rectum to determine if a man is gay even though the Lebanese Order of Physicians have described the method as useless and akin to torture.

Source: 76crimes.com; huffingtonpost.co.uk

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