Being lesbian or gay in Lebanon is illegal under Article 534 of their penal code, but the Lebanese Psychiatric Society still took the bold move of declaring that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and cannot be cured. The LPS issued a statement in response to the recent arrests and mistreatment of LGBT people in the Middle Eastern nation.
In the statement, the LPS said “Homosexuality in itself does not cause any defect in judgment, stability, reliability or social and professional abilities. The assumption that homosexuality is a result of disturbances in the family dynamic or unbalanced psychological development is based on wrong information.”
They also stated that ex-gay therapy has no scientific backing and they asked healthcare professionals to rely upon science when treating people or offering opinions.
The LPS cited the American Psychiatric Association’s decisions to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder (1973) and another decision opposing ex-gay therapy (1998).
For the LPS to issue such a statement is a bold move given that homosexuality is still illegal in the nation. Additionally, there are prominent psychologists such as Dr. Nabil Khoury who claim that “being gay is a disease which needs to be treated,” and others who claim that gays have been cured through prayer and psychological shaming.
Georges Azzi, the executive director of the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, stated that “Some of the Lebanese media has been reporting recently that gays have been ‘cured’ with prayer and therapies, so LPS’s statement in this context is very important and welcomed.”
He went on to say that “The damage caused by such conversion therapies to its recipients is very severe, so I hope Lebanese psychologists and psychiatrists will adhere to these instructions and desist from administering such harmful and unscientific practices.”
Bertho Makso, another LGBT rights advocate called the statement momentous and said “While the World Health Organization (WHO) and many countries in the West declassified being gay as a ‘disease’, Lebanon is the first Arab country to do so. This is an important breakthrough to build on and demand anti-LGBT legislation and practices to desist, both locally and throughout the Arab world and North Africa.”
He added that “This achievement should leveraged as an example for change throughout the Arab world, where LGBT people are still classified and treated with harmful ‘conversion therapies’, including psychological and hormonal treatment.”