Sitting on a peninsula stretching to the west into the Mediterranean Sea, is Lebanon’s capital and largest city, Beirut. It covers an area of 10,452 km², inhabiting approximately 1 500 000 people, half of the total population of the country.
The city that survived many wars is now called the “Paris of the Middle East”. It is where the ancient and sophisticated cultural facades meet the modern architectural structures, a must-see on every Middle-East tour.
Connecting Beirut Central and Ras Beiurt is Hamra Street or technically called Rue 31, which serves as a commercial district, surrounded by respected universities and various business chains such as restaurants and bars. Although not considered as an official red light district, the Hamra Street is where the adult entertainment industry in Beirut largely lies. Prostitutes and hostesses are known to work inside nightclubs and bars in Hamra as they wait for possible clients.
History of the RLD
This street was previously known as the “Champs Elysées” before the Lebanese civil war, as it was patronized by a lot of tourists. The government later mandated the removal of the establishments in the area after the war. As it continues to struggle to bring back its past glory, it still remained its prosperous business centre with the presence of banks, shopping stores, restaurants, pubs, and bars, and a few super nightclubs lining the street. This popular street has remained profitable especially with the existence of a few of these super nightclubs where prostitutes anticipate clients who are interested in their sexual services.
How to find the RLD
A few minute walk away from the prestigious American University of Beirut, Hamra Street begins and ends at the Rue de Rome and Rue Sadat intersections. It connects the city’s central district with the Ras Beirut area.
Stay safe in the RLD
Frequented by tourists, it has become an area targeted by pickpocketing schemes so people are advised to be responsible for their valuables when visiting Hamra Street. Be vigilant when coming across beggars, as they tend to follow and insist on tourists to give them something. This has caused a bit of annoyance to people who go and sit down in cafes and other establishments, as these beggars would persistently go to try to ask for money.
Those who travel to Beirut looking for some adult entertainment, usually go north of the city to Jounieh, where the primary red light district of Lebanon, Maameltein is located. It is where the majority of the super nightclubs, well-regulated adult business scheme conveyed as a better one compared to the traditional ways of prostitution can be found. This adult venue is a unique feature in Lebanon. Unlike the typical nightclubs that may not offer sexual services, this place unwaveringly displays nudity and sexual acts, catering usually to the well-off clientele.
For those who want to settle in the capital, they can still find street prostitution, adult cinemas, as well as a few super nightclubs in the world of sex tourism in Beirut.
Street workers can be seen in Hamra Street, where the main adult entertainment scene of Beirut takes place, but most sex workers in this city are known to work inside the super nightclubs.
The Lebanese law requires brothels to acquire a license to operate, with the inclusion of disease testing for the sex workers. But, the government has ceased the issuance of licenses to brothels since the 1970s in an attempt to gradually eradicate prostitution in the country, leading adult entertainment related businesses to operate illegally. Penalties for sex trafficking as well as forced labour range from 5 to 15 years of imprisonment.
Prostitution in Beirut has steadily been in full swing despite the government’s implementation of the non-issuance of licenses. A branch of the country’s security forces has been tasked to oversee the sex industry. This had lead to the power of abuse as they consistently take money as tips or bribes for every rule that the business owners and sex workers fail to follow. Due to this unfortunate situation, several civil society groups have decided to take action by campaigning to restore the legalisation of the oldest form of profession.
For laws concerning gays, The Lebanese Penal Code Article 534 disallows sexual relations that contradict to the laws of nature. Breaking this law leads to imprisonment up to 1 year. However, in the year 2014, the penal code was invalidated when a judge ruled in the court that homosexuality is not against the laws of nature. Due to the judge’s ruling, it is now regarded as ineffective.
A typical nightlife in Beirut means an “all night out partying, no one is getting home until the sun rises up” kind of nightlife. Here are a few of the well-celebrated nightlife venues in this Lebanese city.
It may come to as a surprise to almost everyone, but Lebanon has an out-in-the-open gay community in its capital, the city of Beirut. It has an emerging reputation as the gay capital of the Arab nations with its gay-friendly nightlife scene.
A lot of gay-friendly entertainment venues are scattered across the city. The one in Mexico Street, Clemenceau, called Bardo is becoming a new court for the young gays. Other places where the gays frequent are Acid in Sin el Fil, and Milk in Saifi.
General Attitude Towards Gays
Beirut is known to be the most tolerant to the gay community of all Arab-speaking cities. The city belongs to the sole country in the Middle East to have formed an organisation, Helem, which protects the welfare of the LGBT. It seeks to have Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code permanently be ineffective.
Despite efforts of the activists, there have been increasing reports of police harassment of gay men in the city that includes invasive body searches to brutal raids in gay bars. The LGBT still face these kinds of harassment, not just by the general public, but also by the authorities who are supposedly protectors of the citizens. This just proves that real tolerance for the LGBT culture has still yet to happen in this city. Oddly, Beirut has been deemed as the safest place for the homosexuals in the Middle East
Gay Prostitution in Beirut
Reports say that Gay prostitution in Beirut is on the rise. It is present in various locations such as: