SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Social Media Reaction to Reporting on Homophobic Trends in Lebanon

Thursday , 07 July 2022
Photo credit: Reuters/Jamal Saidi

On June 23, 2022, caretaker Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi issued an urgent circular that banned gatherings aimed at promoting “sexual deviancy.” This was preceded by Grand Mufti Abdullatif Derian announcing that Dar Al Fatwa will not allow the legalization of homosexuality. This led to organized intimidation campaigns targeting the LGBTQ+ community in Lebanon and those who criticized the Mufti’s announcement like lawyer and activist Khaled Merheb.

 

In order to understand the perception of our own social media audience to LGBTQ+ related topics, the Samir Kassir Foundation chose three posts from its Facebook and Twitter pages which are: Lawyer and Activist Khaled Merheb Faces a Bullying and Intimidation Campaign Because of a Post, which was the subject of a Facebook post and the Facebook sharing of an article, as well as Organized Incitement Campaigns Target the LGBTQ Community During Pride Month. Then we analyzed the reactions garnered on SKF’s own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Report #1: Lawyer and Activist Khaled Merheb Faces a Bullying and Intimidation Campaign Because of a Post (Article)

Facebook

Out of the 198 analyzed accounts, only 4.5% (9) were supportive of the lawyer and activist, 90.4% (180) were against him, 4.5% (9) were neutral.



Out of the 198 analyzed accounts, 70.2% (139) published comments that contained hate speech, and 29.2% (59) published comments that did not contain hate speech.



Out of the 198 analyzed accounts, 4.5% (9) showed affiliation with the Future Movement, 0.5% (1) person exhibited affiliation with the Lebanese Communist Party, 0.5 % (1) with the Progressive Socialist Party, 1.5% (3) with Hezbollah, 1% (2) with the Free Patriotic Movement, 1% (2) with the Lebanese Forces, and 90.9% (180) did not exhibit any visible political affiliation.

 

Eight of the Future Movement leaning accounts were against the lawyer while one account was neutral. All the accounts of the other mentioned political parties were against the victim.



More comments came from male users than female ones (123 and 75 respectively). More female users (7) were in support of Merheb than male users (2).



Twitter


There was only one reply by a male user who was against the lawyer. He did not exhibit any visible political affiliations.

Report #2: Lawyer and Activist Khaled Merheb Faces a Bullying and Intimidation Campaign Because of a Post (Full article)

Facebook


Out of the seven analyzed accounts, 85.7% (6) users were against the lawyer and activist, and 14.3% (1) user was supportive of Merheb.




Out of the seven analyzed accounts, 71.4% (5) published comments that contained hate speech directed against the lawyer and activist, while 28.6% (2) users posted comments that did not contain hate speech.



More comments came from male users than female ones (4 and 3 respectively). No male users had a supportive position towards Merheb, while one female user did.

Twitter

Out of the 22 analyzed accounts, only one user (4.5%) was with the lawyer and activist Khaled Merheb, while 86.4% (19) of the users were against him. Whereas 9.1%, or two users, displayed neutral comments.


 

Out of the 22 analyzed accounts, 45.45% (10) published comments that contained hate speech, and 54.55% (12) published comments that did not contain hate speech.


Out of the 22 analyzed accounts, 4.5% (1) account exhibited political affiliation with the Future Movement. Similarly, 4.5% (1) account exhibited affiliations with Hezbollah. Both were against the lawyer and activist.

 

Significantly more comments came from male users than female ones (17 and 2 respectively). Three accounts were anonymous and hence did not show a visible gender. Only one male user and one female user were supportive of the victim of the threats. Additionally, one male user was neutral, and one user of unidentifiable gender was also neutral.

Report #3: Organized Incitement Campaigns Target the LGBTQ Community During Pride Month


Facebook

Out of the 84 analyzed accounts, none were supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. 95.2% (80) users were against the community and 4.8% (4) of the users were neutral.



Out of the 84 analyzed accounts, 76.1% (64) published comments that contained hate speech, and 23.9% (20) published comments that did not contain hate speech.



Out of the 84 analyzed accounts, 2.38% (2) showed affiliation with Hezbollah. Similarly, 2.38% (2) accounts showed affiliation with the Lebanese Forces. Meanwhile, one account (1.2%) exhibited affiliation with the Free Patriotic Movement.

 

The two Hezbollah-leaning accounts were against the LGBTQ+ community. Likewise, the only Free Patriotic Movement-leaning account was against the targeted community. When it came to the Lebanese Forces-leaning accounts, one user was against the community while the other was neutral in their comment.



More comments came from male users than female ones (52 and 32 respectively). Two male users and two female users had neutral comments about the targeted community.

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