Push to Decriminalize Homosexuality In Lebanon Faces Religious Backlash!

A television channel in Lebanon recently launched an ad campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in the country, sparking outrage among religious leaders.

Murr Television (MTV) released a video last September 2nd announcing its support for abolishing a provision in Lebanon’s Penal Code that makes "unnatural sexual intercourse,” often used to target members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the country, punishable by one year in prison.

The video showed two men standing beside each other while inside an elevator, with one of the men using his phone. Their faces were not shown in the ad. A man armed with a handgun entered the elevator and then exited.

The remaining two men held hands, and an onscreen text appeared that said, “There are crimes, and there is love. Abolish Article 534 of the penal code that criminalizes homosexuality,” with the ad ending with sounds of gunfire ringing off at the end of the video. At the same time, the TV channel’s logo was being shown.

The TV channel, owned by Gabriel Murr, has shared social media posts expressing support for the decriminalization of homosexuality, including one when Pope Francis declared that homosexuality, while a sin, is not a crime, adding "Yes to the abolition of Article 534 of the penal code that criminalizes homosexuality." MTV is not affiliated with the popular international music television channel, and its owner is a known critic of Lebanon’s relationship with the Syrian government.

The ad sparked outrage among Lebanese religious leaders, including Dr. Hassan Moraib, a Lebanese Sunni religious leader who also serves as the Deputy Inspector-General of Dar Al-Fatwa in Lebanon.

During a show on Spot Shot Online on September 4th, Moraib issued a fatwa (Islamic death opinion) against MTV, claiming that the TV channel sold its soul to Satan and even said it was a worse "plague" than COVID-19.

"I consider MTV to be a plague, and people must beware of it. I am responsible for what I am saying. The Muslim society – both the Sunnis and the Shi'ites, I believe that the Shi'ites support me in this completely,” Moraib said in the show. “We consider MTV to be a plague worse than the coronavirus, which people should beware of. MTV has sold its soul to Satan.

Moraib also declared that watching the TV channel is haram, with the interviewer briefly cutting him off and asking if he was issuing a fatwa against MTV, which the religious leader confirmed.

"Absolutely. I am issuing this fatwa by means of your show. I wrote it on my Twitter account, and now I am saying it here. It is haram for any Muslim who pronounces that there is no god other than Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah to watch that channel from now on." Moraib said.

The status of LGBTQIA+ rights in Lebanon remains uncertain as the country’s religious leaders and government officials intensify their rhetoric against LGBTQIA+ individuals. Last August, a bar in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was attacked by a group of Christian extremists while hosting a drag event.

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