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Lebanon: Mayor cracks down on queers, shuts club

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — The Lebanese mayor of the suburban town of Dekwaneh is defending his decision to order a weekend raid on a gay-friendly club that led to the rounding up of patrons who were allegedly beaten, forced to undress and photographed naked, the Beirut-based Al-Akhbar reports.

According to the report, Antoine Shakhtoura, who ordered the shutdown of the club Ghost, claiming it "[promoted] prostitution, drugs and homosexuality," said in a television interview that he saw "what looked like boys and men" outside the club. 

"I went inside . . . I saw people kissing, touching each other, and a man wearing a skirt. These homosexual acts that are happening . . . are scandalous sexual acts," Shakhtoura says. "Of course we made them take off their clothes. We saw a scandalous situation and we had to know what these people were. Is it a woman or a man? Turned out to be a noss rejel (half-man). I do not accept this in Dekwaneh," Al-Akhbar quotes Shakhtoura as saying.

"We didn’t fight for and defend this land and our honor for some people… to practice these things in my neighbourhood, Dekwaneh,” he added.

Among those arrested were “people from the Syrian community and a Lebanese transsexual woman, who
was harassed and forced to undress in the municipal headquarters,” Charbel Maydaa, founder of Lebanese LGBTQ rights organization Helem told Al-Akhbar

The report notes that Helem had been checking up on the club, as police regularly target it. 

A recent statement from the organization says witnesses allege that customers are "frequently exposed to abuse because of their appearance" and that some of them are transported in car trunks to police headquarters, where they are "physically and verbally abused.”

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