From the AP:
When Ahmad Mahfouz told his mother he is gay, she took him to a psychiatrist, thinking he had a disease that could be cured by antidepressants.
When that didn’t work, she urged him to date a woman. He ignored her advice.
“So now, whenever she sees me, she beats me with anything she can lay her hands on: a metal hanger, leather belt, her shoes.”
The 19-year-old college student, a Lebanese Muslim, is unusual in his candor and willingness to be identified, though not photographed. But more Arabs are coming out as gays, or at least coming to terms with their sexuality, even though in some countries they face laws that can land them in jail and extremists who beat them up because Islam condemns homosexuality.
On top of that, homosexuality is widely seen as a disease spread by the U.S. and Israel to corrupt Arabs and undermine their religious faith.
In Lebanon, gays can find refuge at the cramped, one-room office of Helem, which says it’s the first Arab nongovernmental organization openly fighting for their rights. Helem was set up last year despite a vaguely worded law that punishes “unnatural sexual intercourse” with up to one year in jail.
Lebanon, with its mixed population of Muslims and Christians, has a history of religious pluralism and exposure to the West. But elsewhere, homosexuals are on their own.
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