LGBT Rights in the U.S. and Lebanon: How Much Progress Has Really Been Made?


The United States and Lebanon both boast of ideas of diversity and progressiveness, however, neither seems to be particularly adamant on practicing these ideas. LGBT communities in both countries still fear discrimination and oftentimes violence. The difference between the two countries however can be seen in the legal system. Currently in the U.S. eight states have legalized gay marriage but prejudice is still widespread. On the other hand, the Lebanese government had a law (article 534) that deemed same sex relations as “going against nature” and being caught committing physical acts with someone of the same sex could result in up to a year in prison. Fortunately, this law was publicly denounced in 2009 but LGBT individuals still face the threat of violence and arrest from the police and individuals.

There are numerous pro-LGBT groups fighting for equality in both countries but those in Lebanon face a particular set of challenges. Without widespread support from communities it is often difficult to organize and assist those that categorize themselves as LGBT, this is especially true outside of the bigger cities. One group, Helem (literally meaning “Dream”), works towards protecting the LGBT community and advocates for social and legal equality. Another group, Meem, is specifically focused on providing support and counseling to Lebanese LGBT women. Branches of these organizations have also begun to spring up in the U.S. and several European nations with a large Lebanese population.

Recently, in Lebanon, there has been an enormous outcry made by the LGBT community to end anal exams by doctors on supposed gay men. The men receiving these exams were not willing participants but were brought in by police authorities. This is just one example of the violence that continues to frighten the LGBT community. This issue has brought about a great deal of support though from groups outside of the LGBT community which is a hopeful sign that progress will be made and social stigmas are beginning to fade.

In the U.S. homosexuality has become more or less socially acceptable to the point that same sex couples feel they can hold hands or express affection in public. LGBT couples in Lebanon however do not feel the same level of security. Although the U.S. often boasts its superiority in relation to human rights it often times does not see the people that are slipping through the cracks. Yes, eight states have legalized gay marriage and that is amazing progress but there is still so much that can and needs to be done. The same goes for Lebanon, one cannot boast of its progressive views without practicing them. In both countries I think anti-LGBT sentiments have multiple origins but religion is often cited as a main reason against it. Religion has, in the past and still to this day, shaped culture and this is an offset of that. Meaning, what started as a religious belief has now turned into a social concept of what is “right” and what is “wrong.” As the U.S. and Lebanon slowly become more and more secular, ideas of homophobia will also begin to fade, it will just take time.

Helem homepage

Meem homepage

Outraged Lebanese demand end to anal exams on gay men-CNN

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6 thoughts on “LGBT Rights in the U.S. and Lebanon: How Much Progress Has Really Been Made?

  1. After reading this it amazes me how far behind other countries are in LGTB rights considering the United States still has progress they need to make. Looking further into this topic I found an article on CNN website of a gay man in Lebanon talking about his struggles due to these strict laws. He is struggling to find a job and has received harsh criticism throughout his lifetime, being publically humiliated by strangers. He has been rejected from his family, teachers, and friends. Based on additional readings it seems as if many people feel strongly about removing anal exams. They are inhumane and should not be accepted. It looks like this topic has been a more recent discovery, which has only sparked people’s interest in helping with the LGTB movement in Lebanon.

  2. This blog post is really touching on some great points. Although, in the US is slow when it comes to legalizing LBGT rights unlike Canada who has same sex marriage, Lebanon as well as other countries are still behind as well. Being an American and living in America it is often hard to think of reasons why it is taking so long for our society to legalize and accept LBGT people and give them rights. However, looking from a world view, in particular at Lebanon, it is clear that we are moving forward and these things take time. Looking at countries such as Canada then at the US and then at Lebanon one can see the chain of events and what it takes to eventually achieve rights for the LBGT community. The US once stood in Lebanon’s footsteps where same sex relations were socially unacceptable, but now we are moving forward, which means potentially Lebanon will also move forward.

  3. This article was very interesting and was easy to follow. From the start, it outlined how the US and Lebanon were both related on this issue. Their differences and similarities were given, which is important to have when comparing the two countries. This paper was a really great example of how to write our blogs while keeping the US related on these issues. I think that this topic was touchy, but the way it was written made it acceptable on all levels to discuss. I think it would be interesting to follow up with LGBT’s involvement in other issues in Lebanon and the US. You could talk about how they are involved in current issues, such as the uprisings with Syria, or their involvement with Hezbollah.

  4. This post is very interesting, well organized and offers a balanced view of what people of the LGBT community are faced with in the US and Lebanon. I especially agreed with your comment “religious belief has now turned into a social concept of what is “right” and what is “wrong” because as we learn more about Lebanon as a society and state I feel this idea is applicable to more areas than LGBT rights alone. What does it mean to be in a society where not just one religion, but multiple religions effect almost every aspect of life? I feel your comparison of the US and Lebanon becoming more secular is not very helpful because the scales on which the countries already involve religion are far from similar.

  5. I enjoyed this post, many of it’s points made me reflect upon the current situation in the US and internationally for members of the LGBT community. One thing I kept thinking about was how many US citizens like to believe, or brag, that we are a much more civilized or free nation than those in the Middle East. If we truly were that much more socially advanced and accepting would minority groups need to fight for their basic human rights within our borders? While violence against homosexuals and transgendered people are less public within the states, it still happens and is comparable to issues in Lebanon. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/gay-nebraska-woman-anti-gay-hate-crime-_n_1695257.html

  6. This article was great at highlighting why LGBT rights are such an issue in Lebanon. We often don’t think about it in the US because LGBT rights aren’t this bad. The brutality that gays face from the police in Lebanon is frightening. While looking into this issue I read how the police raided an gay adult movie. In the US, if police were to bring in someone who is gay for a special medical exam it would violate so many rights the police is the one who would be punished. I also like how you tied in religion to the discussion. It would be interesting to research how the Sunni and Shi’a feel about homosexuality. While the US has not accomplished all the rights the LGBT community would like to gain, this comparison shows how far America has come. If both Lebanon and the US keep fighting towards what they believe, the living for LGBT can become better.

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