The Arab Institute for Women

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Sexuality Matters

The Arab Institute for Women (AiW) held a webinar entitled “Sexuality Matters” in partnership with Title IX office at LAU, and which was part of our monthly speaking series Food 4 Thought (F4T).

This F4T included Pascale Kolakez, Co-Founder of MOSAIC MENA, and Tarek Zeidan, Executive Director of Helem. Dr. Jennifer Skulte-Ouaiss, Title IX Office Director at LAU, moderated the session and highlighted LAU’s role in fighting stigma and discrimination with LAU’s no-tolerance policy towards gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault through the Title IX Office. 

Pascale Kolakez talked about MOSAIC MENA’s work, the services it provides- which are free of charge- and the organization’s strategic goal to achieve coexistence of people in their respective communities and the national system.

Tarek Zeidan talked about Helem’s work as an organization that provides services including emergency intervention, legal representation, mental support, and case management.

Dr. Skulte-Ouaiss emphasized that LAU’s policies ensure the protection of the rights of students (as well as staff and faculty) with different gender identities and sexual orientation.

The discussion was very interactive, rich, and informative. The speakers shared their personal experience working with the LGBTQ community providing a background about the Lebanese context and what the LGBTQ community encounters regarding discrimination and stigma. They spoke about the differences between gender identity and sexual orientation, in which Pascale simplified the terms by providing real-life examples. The panelists further emphasized and agreed on the human rights of the LGBTQ community.

Zeidan highlighted the crucial role the LGBTQ community has played in the 2019 uprisings in Lebanon. He added: “Our rights are not just legal and political; our rights extend to socioeconomic, sociocultural, and historical rights that have been denied for a very long time”. He also tackled an important issue related to the Arabic language as a barrier in which the language still does not have the right terms to describe LGBTQ people. He emphasized that this is a political issue, as political institutions refrain from delving into queer linguistics and from putting effort into and dedicating time to find the right terms to ensure respect for all.

The speakers also answered questions raised by the students related to the difference between gender expression and gender performance, and questions related to reporting sexual harassment at work in Lebanon.

MOSAIC MENA and Helem both have hotlines. For any emergency or help, call on the following numbers:

MOSAIC MENA: +961-76-945 445

Helem: +961-71-916 146