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Lebanese activists take part in an anti-homophobia rally in Beirut on April 30, 2013.
Lebanon 'liberal' for Mideast, but gays still targeted

in LEBANON, 13/07/2013

Lebanon has a reputation as the most liberal country in the conservative Middle East, but even a night on the town for gays can end in arrest and humiliating sexuality "tests".

They might be less persecuted than elsewhere in the region, but outside a few areas of the capital Beirut, Lebanese homosexuals are largely stigmatised and discriminated against.

"If you want to be gay in Lebanon, then you'd better be powerful like Yves Saint Laurent. That's what someone told me when I was young, and the words have stuck with me ever since," said "Marwan", a gay man in his mid-40s who preferred not to give his real name.

A self-made and successful businessman, his "goal in life is to lobby and overturn Article 534 of Lebanese law" which punishes "unnatural sexual intercourse" by up to one year's imprisonment.

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