Indeed, it’s tourism that has empowered the country’s gay and lesbian community and has made it the most liberal place in the Arab world. “Tourists come from all over the world because they know Lebanon is a fairly open society,” says Georges Azzi, head of the Beirut-based organization Helem (Arabic for “dream”), the Arab world’s first and only gay advocacy group. “This is especially so for Gulf Arabs,” he explains, referring to the Middle East’s most lavish spenders, from countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. “So the police couldn’t crack down on the nightlife scene even if they wanted to.”
Helem's website is here.
(Out Traveler identifies Beirut nightclub BO18 as being built on the site of a "onetime Palestinian refugee camp." This is incorrect. BO18 is built on the ruins of Qarantina, an urban slum cleared by the Phalangists in early 1976, during the Lebanese civil war, and many of its inhabitants massacred, 1500, according to journalist Michael Jansen. It was a heterogeneous slum, with Kurds, Palestinians, and Shi'ite migrants and refugees from southern Lebanon.)
Tags: Beirut, queer