Lebanon Minister Denies Approving Gay GroupBEIRUT: Lebanon's acting Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat Saturday denied charges by conservative Muslim clerics that the government had approved a gay rights group as well as nudist beaches at two resorts. "Contrary to what has been alleged in sermons in the mosques, we have authorized neither the Helem (Dream) Association nor the opening of nudist beaches at Jounieh and Jbeil (Byblos)," Fatfat said.
"These reports manufactured by certain preachers and a section of the press are without foundation," he added.
Homosexuality remains outlawed in Lebanon as an offense "against nature" and carries a jail term of six months to a year.
But in the year since it began operation, the Helem Association said it had noticed an easing of the attitude of sections of the police, judiciary and press towards its campaign for decriminalization.
A petition seeking prosecution of the gay rights group filed by a Beirut city attorney earlier this year was rejected by the attorney general's office, which ruled that the group's operation of an office and a Web site did not constitute an offense.