Press Release regarding the Dekwaneh Abuse Case

Dekweneh sexual abuse
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The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) strongly condemns the acts undertaken, based on orders from Mr. Shakhtoura, the Mayor of Dekwaneh on April 21st 2013. According to media reports, personal accounts of victims, and the mayor’s confession on national TV, individuals in Dekwaneh were targeted based on their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Three men and one transwoman were arrested and exposed to verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.

We at LebMASH believe in the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Societal oppression, discrimination, abuse, and homophobia/transphobia against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community lead to a higher prevalence of psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. Such discrimination and abuse were apparent on April 21st, 2013.

The negative impact of this abuse extends beyond the individuals who were arrested. The abuse represents a threatening message sent to all LGBT individuals in Lebanon where many will fear becoming the next victim. Fear of persecution impacts one’s mental health negatively, especially in a country that still criminalizes “unnatural sexual acts” under Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code.

We, as health care providers and concerned citizens of Lebanon:

(1)   Call on our fellow healthcare professionals in Lebanon to speak up against these acts of abuse and their serious health consequences.

(2)   Call on the appropriate authorities to launch an immediate investigation into the events of April 21st, 2013. We insist that those who perpetuated the abuse are held accountable for their actions. We must ensure that they face appropriate legal consequences.

(3)   Call on the Lebanese parliament to eradicate the antiquated and unjust Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code.

The LebMASH Board –[email protected]

  • Hasan Abdessamad, MD FRCSC FACOG – Obstetrician & Gynecologist
  • Rami Baz, MD – Pediatrician
  • Rita El-Haddad, BS – Psychology Doctoral Student
  • Omar Fattal, MD MPH – Psychiatrist
  • Omar Harfouch, BS – Medical Student

References:

  1. Raynbow YouTube: LBCI reports again on Dekwaneh arrest, closure of gay bar
  2. NOW News: Transgender club victim speaks out
  3. LBCI: اقفال احد ملاهي المثليين في الدكوانة
  4. Legal Agenda: فحوصات العار في الفضاء العام
  5. World Health Organization: WHO definition of Health
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