The banner before it was destroyed by the mob Mawlawli unleashed on the community

Lebanon: the ulterior motives of Mikati and Mawlawi’s homophobic outbursts

Fabrice Houdart


The explanation for the Lebanese Government’s anti-LGBTQ+ rage last week ism more about politics than the country’s culture

Last week’s crackdown in Lebanon, the 2014 “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda and the recent “Don’t Say Gay “ legislation in Florida, share the same root: state-sponsored homophobia. The manipulation of anti-minority sentiments is the oldest trick in the political playbook particularly for politicians in needs of distractions in difficult contexts.

[Also read Human Rights Watch statement: “Lebanon unlawful crackdown on LGBTI gatherings”] and my translation of Mawlawi’s letter

Museveni clings to a bloody dictatorship, DeSantis wants a shot at the US Presidency and Prime Minister Nejib Mikati is in dire need for support as Lebanon experiences one of the worst economic collapses in recent history. Not Lebanon’s history, the World’s recent history (read the World Bank’s Lebanon Economic Monitor or that note Great Denial in the Deliberate Depression).

Mikati, a billionaire, a fact which tells you a lotin the Lebanese context, is no stranger to the country’s misfortunes, he is now tasked to fix.

Therefore, it is legitimate for the global LGBTQ+ community to wonder if the the explanation for last week’s shocking images and words does not reside in a in the Lebanese political and economic context of the past few months. The EIU’s political and economic analysis is in itself a warning sign for LGBTQ+ people.

The situation in Beirut has been worsening following the legislative election in May 2022. In the past few weeks, the liberal professions have started to push for the application of Law 2/67 which places the responsibility for the $70 billion in losses in the financial system on the Bank’s owners, dissensions had appeared in the Banks’ association, the public was increasingly complaining about the situation, the euphoria of the elections had faded and the formation of the government promises to be laborious.

As a reminder, rainbow floral displays are the least of Lebanon’s problem

Out of the blue and under pressure from clerics, particularly Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim Mufti Abdel Latif Derian, the Minister of Interior Mawlawli not only cancelled the planned Pride events to allegedly prevent violence around them during the ongoing parliamentary session but went on to write an extremely reactionary and damaging statement against out community.

It feels eerily similar to the Mashrouh Leila controversy in the summer of 2019, which provided a break for the then Government as the exchange rate had started to depreciate, banks restricted credit and fuel was running out.

Politicians who capriciously curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ people for political gains will continue to do so until they start paying a high price for it on the international scene. If the IMF and bilateral donors are sincere in their support for our rights, they should now send a stern message to Mitaki and Mawlawi that international support for their government hinges on some respect for human rights.

Mitaki’s Government needs to focus on the damage Lebanese elites have inflicted on their own people rather than stigmatize minorities in misguided political calculations. They know rainbow floral displays are the least of the worries of a people facing starvation.



Fabrice Houdart

Fabrice is on the Board of Outright Action International. Previously he was an officer at the UN Human Rights Office and World Bank