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Lebanon: Backlash as MPs introduce bill to decriminalize LGBTQ+ relationships

Some Lebanese leaders have intensified their campaign against the LGBTQ+ community after news emerged of a bill to repeal an anti-LGBTQ+ provision of the Penal Code.
Members of Lebanon's LGBTQ community attend a picnic the coastal city of Batroun, north of Beirut, on May 21, 2017, as part of the Beirut Pride week aimed at raising awarness about the rights of the community. / AFP PHOTO / IBRAHIM CHALHOUB (Photo credit should read IBRAHIM CHALHOUB/AFP via Getty Images)

BEIRUT — Members of the Lebanese parliament have for the first time introduced a bill to decriminalize same-sex relationships. The proposed legislation aims to repeal Article 534 of the Penal Code, which prohibits "any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature" with a penalty of up to one year in prison. 

Only made public in recent weeks, likely due to a leak in parliament, the bill had been introduced in early July by nine representatives, including independent members from Forces of Change and Christian parties. 

A leak would not be an irrelevant detail in this case given subsequent events. Public circulation of the bill has intensified the backlash against the Lebanese LGBTQ+ community on multiple fronts. 

Paula Yacoubian, a parliamentarian for Forces of Change and a signatory to the bill, told Al-Monitor that she had hoped to decriminalize same-sex relationships following her election in 2018. 

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