"Straight From The Heart" - Adaptations to Social Stigma Among Gays and Lesbians in Lebanon
Abstract: LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) in Lebanon have for a long time been a target of oppression were legal, economic and social factors have contributed to their historical marginalization. While the Lebanese Penal code in article 534, is criminalizing homosexuality the law is rarely applied and is primarily used to violate the privacy of gay and lesbians by denying them basic human rights. Helem and Meem being the only organizations working explicit with these rights believe that the only way to help is through visibility. One consequence of this visibility of gay and lesbians is a growing homophobia in the society and reluctance towards the subject in hand. By using a conceptual framework the thesis attempts to provide a structure for better understanding of the interactions of gays and lesbians in different levels of the society in Lebanon as well as highlighting the coping and adapting mechanisms that follows marginalization and stigma. The analysis shows that a large part of the target group chooses to live their life in secrecy, fearing exposure. They try to get around the stigmatizing eyes of their fellow citizens by acting “straight” in public while living a “gay life” behind close doors. The study is built on several interviews and observations conducted in Beirut, Lebanon between September and December 2007. Theoretically the thesis conveys and relates to several thoughts within queer theory and discourses concerning identity.
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