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Will Protests in Lebanon Provide Opening for LGBTQ Equality?

Will Protests In Lebanon Provide Crack For LGBTQ Equality?

Antigovernment protests forced out a prime minister. Now demonstrators hope for progress on equality.

Protesters in Lebanon have reportedly adopted LGBTQ equality within efforts to bring progress there.

Human rights activists say the government in Lebanon just this year targeted individuals based on gender and sexual orientation. But as antigovernment protests grow in the country, Timereports opposition leaders have taken up gay rights as part of their agenda.

"This revolution has raised the bar to the maximum," said protester Hosam Hawwa. "There's a newfound openness of thinking and we should push it to the end. All forms of exclusion aim to divide us, whether under the fraud of sectarianism or the fraud of homophobia."

The protests have grown to include hundreds of thousands, blocking traffic and garnering international attention. The unrest led in October to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

But while the demonstrations largely centered around economic turmoil, multiple outlets say the turn of events has created an opportunity for equality to take root.

The Middle Eastern nation has enforced laws since the 1920s targeting homosexuality. Deeming gay sex as "against nature," the law allows imprisonment for up to year.

But Tarek Zeidan, executive director of the pro-LGBTQ group Helem, told Reuters a change in leadership could mean a government "more willing to relax its iron grip ... on social and human rights issues."

Zeidan, who founded Helem in 2004, sees a huge moment for change as society opens its mind to a government overhaul.

"It is not the work of the revolution to change homophobic and transphobic attitudes for us," he said.

"The hope is that it ushers in a level playing field for us to engage in this important work on these very difficult subjects of gender identity and sexuality."

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