Monday, November 14, 2005

Arrests in Beirut Gay Club

We received the following story from HELEM, the Lebanese LGBT organization

Last night (12-11-05), 11 people were arrested at Acid nightclub. We don't know if there were any women among those taken in. They were charged with article 534 and are now in Hbeich. An emergency meeting was held in Helem on Sunday and a preliminary plan of action was put together following contact with our lawyers and a gathering of testimonies from people at Acid that night and a relative of one of the men arrested. Tomorrow, the parliamentary committee is holding its meeting with the Arab Human Rights Network and we have contacted parliamentarian Elias Attallah who will present our case at the meeting.

Our prime concern at the moment is to get the arrested people out as quickly as possible. Legally speaking, the arrests fall outside the scope of 534, which states explicitly that "moujama3a" (ie penetration) against nature is punishable by law, since the arrests happened on the presumption of homosexuality and not on any evidence of penetrative sex. This is the argument our lawyers are going to be using to push our case and get the people released.

Helem is going to issue an official press release on the arrests to be sent out to NGOs, the media, and other concerned bodies, as well as a list of ministers, parliamentarians, and other key actors that might be of help. We are not going to mobilize any international body at this time.

This is the first time such a raid on acid has resulted in mass arrests specifically for 534.

We will keep you updated if we find out more information.

In solidarity,

Updates to follow