This post was originally published on habdessamad.com on Oct. 26, 2014.
“Fifo is a Lebanese man who is being ostracized for expressing himself the way he wants.
People don’t like it so they pathologise it. He lives in New York and gets back at his haters with traditional Arabic proverbs. All wisdom in the proverbs is overseen and overlooked, his words and wit become meaningless as people can not get themselves to see him deeper than his appearance and mannerism.
“He is sick – mentally ill – sexual deviant” in the eyes of many on social media portals and until these misconceptions and fallacies get rectified many, like Firas, will not feel they can ever fit in, develop and prosper, will not even feel safe.
We can rectify it. That is why I believe in the work the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health is doing. That is why I support LebMASH.
The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) has already started to make a difference on the ground in Lebanon.
In 2014, LebMASH helped organize three medical conferences on LGBT health and provided educational sessions to Syrian refugees and womyn victims of sexual or physical abuse. LebMASH is in communication with the Lebanese Order of Physicians (LOP) to work on developing tools that will help bring an end to futile and harmful “Anal Tests” forced onto detainees to assess their sexual orientation. Shame Tests as the Lebanese media called them, were banned, on paper, by the LOP and the Ministry of Interior in 2012 but continue to be performed.
For the third year in-a-row, LebMASH sponsored a medical student to attend GLMA medical conference and continues to encourage students to read, research and write about LGBT and sexual health through the “Break The Silence” BTS competition grant. LebMASH already started sponsoring research on LGBT health in Lebanon, in the coming years, publications will start trickling into peer-reviewed medical journals and enriching a literature thirsty for such data.
LebMASH continues to network nationally and internationally to advance the healthcare of sexual minorities in Lebanon. LebMASH is in communication with Helem, Marsa, Arab Foundation for Equality, Kafa, the Legal Agenda among other civil society organizations to orchestrate the work needed to achieve its mission. Internationally, LebMASH has been an invited speaker in 2013 and 2014 to the annual medical conference of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality. In Sept. 2014, LebMASH ran a plenary session at GLMA’s conference in Baltimore discussing global LGBT health and showcasing Lebanon as a prototype of how health advocacy could be started. We also discussed LebMASH’s involvement in advocacy within the World Health Organization. On a different front, LebMASH was represented during the World Bank Spring meetings this year to work on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity safeguards. LebMASH continues to follow up and will again be present at the World Bank consultation in Beirut in Nov 2014.
All this work has been self-funded by the executive board and personal donations from supporters. This year, LebMASH is hosting its second annual fundraiser in New York. Fifo, which now became a #LebLGBT social media sensation, will be there and supporting. He already made a special #Hashtag #LebMASH video for the event:
To help LebMASH continue and build up on this great work, please keep LebMASH in mind when you are looking for a charity or an NGO to support. LebMASH also offers volunteerism, internship and partnership opportunities that you can read about on lebmash.org.”