Lebanese authorities arrest two men for "sodomy"
Published Friday, August 17, 2012
Lebanese security forces arrested two men Friday for indecent acts after they were allegedly found engaging in sexual activity inside a car, a police spokesperson told the National News Agency (NNA).
NNA reported the men had been detained in the Beirut district of Achrafieh for "sodomy," while a security source said the men were currently undergoing questioning at the office for Public Morality in a judicial police station.
Lebanese gay rights group, Helem, have cast doubt on the police's account, and suggested that the men may have been "merely kissing" instead of engaging in explicit sexual conduct.
"[The police] are just flexing their muscles and picking on weak people, when they're unable to stop the real crime that's been going on," said Helem Executive Director Charbel Maydaa, referring to rampant kidnappings and physical assaults over the last few days.
The group said that no further information about the incident would likely surface before Saturday, when preliminary investigations are supposed to end.
But Lebanese television network MTV went ahead and published the names of the two men as well as the names of their mothers, which is a possible violation of Lebanese law, according to civil rights legal expert, Nizar Saghieh.
"By law, they are not allowed to reveal the names. There's a prohibition by law [of publishing names] while still in the phase of primary instruction, in other words, before trial," Saghieh told Al-Akhbar.
"And in trial, you need to prove that there is a cause for public interest. Why would you publish their names, other than to harm their reputations?"
Maydaa also said that the two men can sue the television network if they choose to do so.
But Saghieh questioned how such information was being released to the media, while preliminary investigations were still ongoing.
"How did this information arrive to MTV? Who's revealing this? And this is not the first time," he said.
The arrests come after police raided an adult cinema in Beirut frequented by gay men a fortnight ago, detaining 36 men and subjecting them to anal examinations to determine if they had had sex.
The move prompted outrage from civil rights groups in Lebanon, and drew international media coverage.
Lebanon's main medical association, the Order of Physicians, issued a decree outlawing anal examinations, warning doctors they would face disciplinary measures if they carried out the act.
The country's Public Prosecution has, however, argued in favor of retaining anal examinations. It is unclear as yet whether the two men arrested on Friday were subjected to the probe.