Thursday, June 19, 2003

Jbeil beach a magnet for homosexuals

From Lebanon's Daily Star

Some public beaches here are gaining a reputation as “the destination of choice for gays.” Some may be just curious, but for others, the chance to gather at these beaches is a way to socialize and meet people.
“You can see them holding each other’s hands,” an employee in one of the prominent resorts in Jbeil told The Daily Star on Wednesday. Jbeil, a city known for its clean beaches, witnessed the opening of many new beach resorts in the last decade. But one small beach is gaining a reputation for being a popular destination for gays.
He said few women came to the beach, and the ones who did were usually foreigners, who took advantage of the situation to sunbathe topless.
An employee at a private beach nearby told The Daily Star that homosexuals usually visit during the weekends.
“Few visit the place during weekdays, but if you come here on Sundays, you will be surprised by the high number of gays,” he said.
The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he was not bothered by the gays’ presence, as they are human beings whose rights must be respected.
“There is nothing you can do to stop them,” he said.
A women who owns a snack bar at the beach told The Daily Star that it was not the only place were gays gathered.
“Go to Halat, Jounieh, Ain al-Mreisseh and many other beaches, and you can see the number of gays who visit these beaches,” she said.
She added that the gays were very polite and never acted in an unethical manner. “I bring my children with me, and I have never witnessed a disturbing scene,” she said.
The law bans sodomy, and homosexuals are arrested if they are caught in a sexual act.
Lawyer Nizar Saghieh, president of the Private Freedoms Association, told The Daily Star that although Article 534 stipulates that homosexuals caught having sex will be prosecuted and may be sentenced to one year in prison, these laws are not applied. He said that the government avoids applying the law, because if all homosexuals were arrested, than this will create a “public debate” about the high number of gays and lesbians in this country.
Saghieh said that “homosexuality is made public whenever it is combined with a crime, as if to show that all homosexuals are criminals.”
He added that a conference was held lately by the association to prove that “homosexuality is not an unnatural copulation, but a natural choice.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

QUIT! Disrupts Israeli Military Propaganda Film at Queer Film Festival


Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism staged a protest at the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans film festival showing of the Israeli movie, "Yossi and Jagger" on Saturday night. "Yossi and Jagger" is about two army officers who fall in love while stationed on the Lebanon border in the 1980s. The Israeli Consulate cosponsored the movie, flew the producer in for the screening and was invited to speak after the film. As the credits rolled, six activists went onto the stage and unfurled two banners. The first banner said, "No Animals Were Killed In The Making Of This Movie," and was followed by the second, "17,000 Palestinian And Lebanese Civilians Were Killed By The Israeli Forces In Lebanon," a fact that was not even alluded to in the film. Other activists handed out leaflets at the doors. The leaflet was entitled 'Yossi and Jagger: Epilogue' and tells the story of Yossi's decision to quit the army and join 'Yesh Gvul,' the Israeli military resister's movement. It also suggested that if people wouldn't think it was appropriate to show a film about gay American officers falling in love during the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, they shouldn't think "Yossi and Jagger" is appropriate entertainment either.

Producer Gal Uchovsky, who spoke before and after the film, was apparently shocked to learn that people could be offended by his film. "I didn't expect that," he said. To his credit, he also said that instead of building illegal settlements in Palestine, the Israeli government should use its money to splurge on a first-class ticket for him. "They flew me coach, they can't buy me for $600," he said after thanking the consulate for the second time for their sponsorship. He did not respond to QUIT!'s critique, simply saying, "The Palestinians are suffering a lot right now." He believes the film is anti-war (the subtle anti-war message is conveyed mainly by a long close-up of the words
'Make Love Not War' etched into a wall in English), and says that he wanted to show that the Israeli soldiers are 'just kids, and they are also victims.' The
'enemy' does not appear at all in the movie, which is plagued by sexism as well as racism. Uchovsky explained during the Q&A that the script was approved by the army, though they initially had problems with how gay it was, and was filmed in the Golan Heights, Syrian territory which has been occupied by Israel since 1967. The representative of the Israeli consulate said that the film was "not about politics, but about culture." Activists made a few audible comments, including one about the massacres at Sabra and Shatila, but did not try to prevent him from speaking.

"Yossi and Jagger" was endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle as the festival's "must-see" film, and was the first to sell out the 1400-seat Castro Theatre. The
crowd seemed pretty split about the action. When the lights finally came up enough for people to read the banners clearly, a fair amount of applause broke out, followed by some boos and hisses. A few audience members called "Thank you," while others yelled, "This isn't the place," and "We're just trying to have fun here." Leafleters reported being called "cunt" by their gay brothers and having things thrown at them, but all 400 leaflets were given out. Ushers reported that festival goers were arguing about the action while waiting in line for the next movie.

Read the flier (and check out QUIT' s new Estee Slaughter campaign) at