Nasrallah slams gay relations, says Muslims should 'punish' Quran desecrators
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has stepped up his attacks against the LGBTQ communities in Lebanon and the region.
"We are not making up battles, nor are we making up dangers. This is a real danger that is imminent and has begun," Nasrallah said in a televised speech for the annual Ashura commemoration. Last week, Nasrallah had said gay people, "even if they do it once... are to be killed," in line with Islamic teachings.
In his latest comments Nasrallah said that, "In Lebanon, this danger started with some educational institutions, and NGOs," which he accused of "promoting" same-sex relations to children. He called on the ministry of education to intervene. The ministry later denied the presence of such books or classes in Lebanon.
Religiously diverse Lebanon is one of the Middle East's more liberal countries, and the LGBTQ community has long been visible and outspoken, defying crackdowns on its bars, nightclubs and community centers. But it has continued to face systematic social, economic and legal discrimination -- which an expert has warned could only be worsened by Nasrallah's rhetoric.
"Hate speech functions as a tool of diversion, wielded by Nasrallah and political elites to divert public attention from profound economic disparities and governance failures," Hussein Cheaito, an economist who focuses on queer political economy, wrote on Twitter, which is being rebranded as "X".
"This calculated tactic perpetuates their grip on power," he said, while adding to "a vicious cycle of discrimination, fear, and exclusion, entwined with Lebanon's socio-economic fabric."
Lebanon's LGBTQ community in 2018 scored a success when a court ruled that same-sex conduct is not unlawful, but since then it has seen more setbacks than victories.
Last summer, the community was targeted by a crackdown that saw activists harassed and Pride gatherings canceled after the interior ministry instructed security forces to clamp down on events "promoting sexual perversion."
The ministry argued that LGBTQ events violate customs, traditions and "principles of religion" in Lebanon, where political power is split along faith lines between Shiite and Sunni Muslim, Christian, Druze and other groups.
Separately, Nasrallah said that if governments of Muslim-majority nations do not act against countries that allow the desecration of the Quran, Muslims should "punish" those who facilitate attacks on Islam's holy book.
Nasrallah slammed recent incidents in which the Quran was burned or otherwise desecrated at authorized demonstrations in Sweden and Denmark.
He said Muslims should watch for the outcome of an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, scheduled to take place in Baghdad on Monday to discuss the organization's response to the Quran burnings.
The organization and its member states should "send a firm, decisive and unequivocal message to these governments that any repeat of the attacks will be met with a boycott," Nasrallah said. If they do not, he said, Muslim youth should "punish the desecrators."
He did not elaborate what such a boycott and punishment should entail.
Members of the crowd, who carried banners with religious slogans alongside the flags of Hezbollah, Lebanon and Palestine, chanted, "Oh, Quran, we are at your service; Oh, Hussein, we are at your service."