Skip to content

Lebanon Is Known as Gay Friendly. But Pride Week Was Shut Down.

May 16, 2018

Mr. Damien said in a phone interview on Wednesday that he had sought the approval, but had been told it was unnecessary since the play was “not being performed or staged and no tickets were being sold.”

He agreed to stop the reading but was still detained overnight, he said.

At the police station, Mr. Damien said, he was shown an inaccurate version of the event’s program that suggested it included what the authorities considered immoral and pornographic content.

“It wasn’t our program,” he said. “It was totally incorrect.”

He provided an accurate description of the planned events, he said, but was told that he could either sign a pledge to cancel the rest of the week’s activities and be released or refuse to sign, be arrested and have the events canceled.

After consulting his lawyer, he said, he signed the pledge so as not to endanger other participants.

“If I did not collaborate then other people would have been arrested instead of me,” he said.

The Lebanese government did not comment officially on Mr. Damien’s detention. An official with the country’s General Security Directorate confirmed that Mr. Damien had been detained overnight after a complaint was filed with the public prosecutor’s office that the events harmed “public morals.”

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, did not say who had filed the complaint other than referring to “religious figures and associations.”

Mr. Damien’s lawyer, Layal Saqr, said Mr. Damien had not broken any laws by organizing Beirut Pride.