LebMASH video “Marginalization is bad for health” describes the effects of anti-LGBT discrimination in Lebanon (Click image for video)

The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) held its first-ever LGBT health week this month, focusing on the health problems caused by the LGBT community’s marginalization in Lebanon.

LebMASH’s LGBT health week came in the wake of Judge Rabih Maalouf’s January ruling that homosexuality should not be a punishable offense. The country’s LGBT community can still be targeted under Article 534 criminalizing acts that “contradict the laws of nature.”

The Middle Eastern news site StepFeed reported:

‘Marginalization is bad for your health’: Lebanon hosts LGBT awareness week

Dr. Omar Fattal, president of the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (Photo courtesy of LebMASH)

… The health campaign is addressing several issues that affect the community in Lebanon, starting from physical and mental health, to legal concerns.

Lebanon is often seen as a liberal beacon in the midst of a conservative region, and this relative openness extends to the LGBT community as well. Several gay clubs and bars operate within Beirut and its suburbs, and NGOs and campaigns supporting the community are frequently in the spotlight.

But Lebanon is also a country where LGBT individuals can be prosecuted for sexual acts that are against “nature.” The community does not enjoy legal protections and LGBT individuals have allegedly faced torture at the hands of security forces.

And of course, as is the case in many countries throughout the world, societal and familial acceptance is a major hurdle for homosexual, bisexual and trans Lebanese.

“Homophobia is considered as one of the main obstacles facing individuals and professionals. These behaviors make individuals address others based on personal beliefs and stereotypes where people are categorized as sinners, ill or disease creators,“ Nadia Badran, president of the Order of Social Workers in Lebanon, said in LebMASH press release. …

The theme for the week is “Marginalization is bad for your health,” focusing on discrimination, persecution and rejection the LGBT community faces in Lebanon and how it affects mental health as well as access to proper healthcare.

“It is well documented that homophobia, stigma, marginalization, and discrimination lead to health disparities and reduced access to care,” Dr. Nuhad Dumit, president of the order of Nurses in Lebanon, said, reiterating her association’s full support in addressing these issues in the country.

She said it is “crucial to address the issue of homosexuality in Lebanon in hope of promoting better health for this vulnerable group of people.”

This article includes information from UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes recap of the world’s LGBTI news and a related article from Step Feed, which describes itself as the “homepage of the Middle East.”