Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, comes alive under darkness. Its narrow alleyways meander into streets full of bars.
The locals, many dressed in designer clothing generously splashed with expensive fragrances, sit on the verandas drinking cocktails till dawn. The city’s liberal demeanour really does make it like no other place in a deeply conservative region.
But Beirut has another side to it that highlights this difference – it has an underground gay scene that is private yet very much alive.
There are bars and clubs specifically for homosexuals, but they are discreet and the media are not welcome when the crowds are in.
However, recent events are said to have challenged Lebanon’s reputation as being relatively tolerant of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
Last year, a Beirut cinema was raided by police and more than 30 people believed to be homosexuals were arrested. They were each subjected to anal examinations by a doctor at a police station to ascertain whether they had been having "unnatural" intercourse.
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