Gays and lesbians in Lebanon are facing many hurdles in their struggle for LGBT equality.

Helem, which has been described as the Arab region’s only overt gay rights organisation, is actively campaigning to overturn the law that makes homosexuality illegal in Lebanon.

A protest was held on Sunday in the streets of Lebanon. It saw people carrying banners and flags and taking part in a sit-in.

A similar protest took place in February, where nearly two dozen gays and lesbians waved rainbow flags in a downtown Beirut square, demanding gay rights. They protested the beating of two gay men by police.

The region – and especially Iran and Iraq – has seen a recent spate of murders and official executions of homosexuals.

“One of the major problems we face is that some parents threaten their gay children with article 534,” Helem activist Charbel Maydaa told AP. Lebanon’s Article 534 prohibits having sexual relations that “contradict the laws of nature” and can lead to prison sentences for those found guilty.

In January, Helem was honoured with the Felipa de Souza Award by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) for its groundbreaking work in the region.

Founded in 2004, the organisation takes its name from the Arabic word for “dream”. It is also the Arabic acronym for Lebanese Protection for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders and Queers.

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