Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Al-Arabiya Deviously Insults Gays and Lebanon

Last weekend, al-Arabiya published an article describing Fatfat's denial of the Lebanese government's authorization of Helem, the Arab World's first gay-rights organization. And, it's a remarkably good step for al-Arabiya, for it's much less homophobic than normal.

The article is has a main headline and a minor one, respectively "They Demand Their Right to the Nude Beaches" and "The Lebanese Minister of the Interior Denies Licensing a Homosexual Organization"

The article never really accuses gay people of advocating nude beaches; it mentions the beaches in the headline and never goes into it in the story. The gay-nude equivalent is meant to be understood. That's an underhanded way of undermining gay people. But the article is certainly better than the article by al-Arabiya last month on the International Day Against Homophobia, which accuses Helem of showing porn. Or the article a month ago which called Mary Cheney a sexual deviant.

The article, translated by me:

The Lebanese Minister of the Interior Ahmed Fatfat denied on Saturday June 16, 2006, in response to a newspaper article and Muslim clerics, that licenses were issued for the establishment of a Lebanese organization defending homosexual rights and naked beaches in tourist regions with Christian majorities.

A statement [by Fatfat] from the media office in the Ministry of the Interior said,
"Contrary to what a newspaper (the man of letters) mentioned and some clerics pointed to, neither license nor acknowledgement was issued to my knowledge
regarding the named society (Helem) and any licences for nude beaches in (my city) Jbail and Juniyah" to the north of Beirut.

The statement added that "this is generally false news". Helem has gained the support of homosexual organizations in France and Canada and possesses an electronic website, but Lebanese religious groups attack them since they launched a campaign a year ago for the removal of the six-month to one-year sentence of imprisonment for what Lebanese law considers "contrary to nature".

Georges Azzi, a member of Helem, said to Agence France-Presse, "We are targeted by some of the groups since we launched a campaign a year ago for the removal of the punishment on the basis of respect." He added, "We feel that a portion of civil society supports our battle and desires more reconciliation, which we observed through the decreasing violence of judges and the police force and the attitude the free press has towards us."

Some committee members supported the reconsideration of the penal code
regarding the removal of homosexuals from punishment, but the council refused to look into a complaint that member Saad Wazan presented in Beirut municipal council about a student taking civil action with the help of Helem. The discriminatory lawyer had answered the judge that the complaint was dubitable due "to the non-availability of the elements of guilt".

Three weeks ago, the organization celebrated in one of Beirut's hotels the World Day for Homosexuality without being bothered by authorities.

One thing that stands out is the prominance of the Lebanese flag on the article's webpage and the direct mentioning of Christianity in the article. It seems that instead of calling gay people "faggots", which al-Arabiya has done many times, it is using more subversive methods to demean them, i.e. gay equals Christian equals Western equals American. More frankly, al-Arabiya is trying to say that Lebanon is bringing shame on the Arab World by not controlling its Christians and its gay people and is simply a puppet for the West.

Of course, after the article were scores of anti-gay comments, with a smattering of pro-gay ones. My favorite comment, number 73:
wakup lebanese people we don,t need sanfransisco american. shame .........we don,t need america fake demacraty brought it by14 march,,,shame... what ever support them they are sick [sic]


Anonymous CaPPuCCiNo said...

We have discussed this issue also at GayLebanon Undernet's blog. If you'd like to check it out, go to We have a link to this page too. Thanks :)

June 22, 2006 11:02 PM  

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