BEIRUT: In 2013, the Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) and the Lebanese Psychological Association (LPA) affirmed that homosexuality is not a disease, and that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation are both futile and harmful.
Yet, a study in late 2015, showed that 72 percent of people in Lebanon believe that homosexuality is a medical disorder, and 79 percent agreed that homosexual people should be taken in for a psychological or hormonal treatment.
On Nov. 8, 2018, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) joined forces with the Agnes Varis Trust launching an awareness campaign under the motto “HOMOSEXUALTIY IS NOT A DISEASE” (HINAD) at a conference at “The Key” hotel.
Speakers for the conference included: the President of LPA , Dr. Aimee Karam; the Secretary of LPS, Dr. George Karam; Attorney Layal Sakr; Director of SEEDS, a legal initiative; and Dr. Shadi Ibrahim, President of LebMASH.
The campaign HINAD emphasizes that homosexuality is not a disease, but a natural condition, and that attempts of sexual orientation conversion (SOCE), are harmful and ineffective.
“The Lebanese Psychiatric Association focuses on medical researchers that back up our activities and professional practices.” said Dr. Aimee Karam, “from here, LPA does not consider homosexuality a disease, but a healthy, normal phenomenon in humans and human relations. There aren’t any symptoms for homosexuality to classify it as a disease. We now can see that most scientific resources have changed the definition of “sexual orientation” instead of “sexual disease.”
Dr. Aimee Karam pointed the importance of parent and family support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals, not only regarding acceptance but also regarding awareness on how to deal with society’s cruel judgment and inferior treatment. “There should be awareness in schools and universities, individuals are getting harassed and bullied because of their sexual orientation. We should strive to create a safe and healthy environment for everyone.”, she added.
“The American Association of Psychology declared in 1974 that homosexuality is not a disease”, said Dr. George Karam, “and the World Health Organization deleted homosexuality from its archives since 1990, considering it not a disease. Yet, a big part of Lebanese society still considers homosexuality a disease, for that reason we are here today to talk about this very important problem.”
He added that that 2013 was the first time light was shed on homosexuality through the media in Lebanon and was publicly addressed for the first time in an Arabic country, where a variety of doctors reassured that homosexuality is not a disease.
Attempts of using force treatment and conversion therapies have medical proof of how harmful they can be on individuals, and there’s currently a hotline available to report these attempts where they will be prosecuted.
Lawyer Layal Sakr talked about the legal view on homosexuality concerning article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code which considers “intercourse contrary to nature” illegal, and is used to criminalize same-sex relationships in Lebanon.“We can’t but depend on medical facts and reports issued by the World Health Organization and other medical resources, in order to protect these people from penalizes, said Sakr.
“It's important to double the efforts of medicine and law together, in order to create awareness over how important it is to accept homosexuality, by considering it not a crime and not a disease, consequently not considering it contrary to nature, “ Sakr said.
"We as lawyers and legal workers are in the process of defending these conclusions in Lebanese courts”, Sakr added. “There have been five provisions issued defending the LGBT community, the first in 2009, then in 2014, 2016, 2017, and the latest verdict issued by the Court of Appeal, where it didn’t criminalize homosexuality, noting that the Court of Appeal is considered the highest court. That’s what we depend on to move forward.”
More information on the ongoing LebMASH campaign can be found under #NotaDisease.
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