On May 10th, 2017, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) held a Press Conference on Transgender Health at Smallville Hotel, Badaro.
The event included:
The Launch of the Arabic Translation of the Standards of Care for Transgender Individuals (available here)
& Results of an analysis of Lebanese doctor’s knowledge about transgender health
Omar Harfouch, MD, MPH – LebMASH President
Chady Ibrahim, MD – LebMASH Board Member
With support from the Dr. Agnes Varis Trust, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) organized the first LGBT health week in Lebanon under the slogan “marginalization is bad for health” to raise awareness among the public, the media, and the health care professionals about the negative effects of marginalization and discrimination in the health of LGBT people.
|Saturday March 11, 2017||Medical Conference||USJ Medical Campus||9:30 AM to 5:00 PM|
|Sunday March 12, 2017||Student Workshop||AUB – Issam Fares Hall||9:00 AM to 7:00 PM|
|Monday March 13, 2017||Press Conference||Smallville Hotel, Badaro||11:00 AM to 1:00 PM|
|Wednesday 15, 2017||Grand Rounds Talk||AUBMC, OBGYN Department||7:30 AM to 9:00 AM|
|Wednesday 15, 2017||FHS Talk||AUB – Van Dyck Auditorium||12:30 PM to 2:00 PM|
|Wednesday 15, 2017||LebMASH Annual Reception & Award Ceremony||Madam Om||6:30 PM to 10:00 PM|
During the press conference LebMASH launched the 3 campaign videos that were later disseminated on social media.
The first video features a sexual health specialist who wants to treat all his patients equally. He explains that unfortunately, article 534 of the Lebanese penal code prevents him from doing his job effectively. He calls for this law to be abolished
The second video highlights how the support that this loving mom gave her son helped him get the proper care for his HIV. It highlights how having a supportive family is a protective factor against HIV.
The third video highlights the fact that homosexuality itself is not a mental illness but being subjected to chronic stress puts LGBT people at a higher risk of having mental health issues. Support from family is a protective factor against having mental health issues
On Thursday March 6, 2017 LebMASH invited its volunteers for a happy hour at Memory Lane in Mar Mikhael, Beirut. There were 20 attendees. Board members, employees, external partners and volunteers.
The event was supported by Dr. Agnes Varis Trust and the board members.
It was very well received by the volunteers who expressed a sense of belonging to LebMASH.
Volunteer Coordinator, LebMASH
On March 24 2016, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) hosted its Annual Reception & Award Gala in Ashkal-Alwan, Beirut, Lebanon.
The Swiss Embassy was represented by its 2eme Secrétaire, Mr. Chasper Sarott. LebMASH had the opportunity to thank the Swiss Embassy for their generous grant in support of “Shu EL Sabab” awareness video. “Shu El Sabab” was screened during the event.
The Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) was represented by its president Dr. Josiane Madi Skaff who called for strengthening the collaboration between LPS and LebMASH and called for annulling article 534.
The Lebanese Psychological Association (LPA) was represented by its board member Dr. Michel Nawfal, who spoke about the work the LPA has been doing.
The reception was attended by representatives from many universities and civil society organizations including Himaya, Helem, MOSAIC, Oum el Nour, Skoun, KAFA, MARSA, ABAAD, The Arab Foundation for Freedom & Equality (AFE), Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), among others.
Marsa Sexual Health Center received LebMASH’s 2016 ‘Leader in LGBT Health Equality Award’ for providing confidential and anonymous services related to sexual health and establishing themselves as a needed safe-space for LGBT individuals seeking healthcare services. Marsa’s President Dr. Ayman Assi and Manager, Diana Abou Abbas, accepted the award. Diana stressed in their acceptance speech the importance of collaboration between different organizations and the role Helem played in paving the way for Marsa to become the game changer it is now in the region.
The Annual Reception & Award Gala was inspiring and fun, it also was a great networking opportunity for many. LebMASH raised $900 from individual donations, a silent auction, and raffle prizes. Many donated gifts were distributed on attendants who won in a spontaneous jeopardy-style engaging game.
LebMASH would like to thank our sponsors for their generous contributions: Ashkal Alwan, Barakat Travel Agency, Contro Corrente Italia, Grand Hills Hotel, Elie Melhem Clinics (EMC), Ice Watch, Stolichnaya, Kefraya, Zaatar w Zeit, Triple K Catering, Pepsico, Pepsi, Aquafina, Libby’s, Haber Printing, Promax, Grand cinemas, and Lebanon Dance Academy.
A Special thanks goes to Nora Abou Chakra from The Sponsor Company for her support and exceptional work in the organization of this year’s annual reception.
We can not do anything we do without the support of our volunteers. A big thank you to Bianca Sallum, Jonathan Harb, Ahmad Abou Mohammad and Roy Achkar.
It was humbling to be in one room with so many great leaders and trail blazers. It was a beautiful evening filled with great vibes, inspiring words and new connections. We are grateful for sharing these moments with all of our guests, volunteers, partners, friends and family, and would like to thank everyone for their support.
In collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry at Hôtel-Dieu de France Hospital and Saint Joseph University (USJ), LebMASH delivered a half-day educational activity addressing health of sexual minorities as part of the “matinées scientifiques” on March 26 2016.The topics covered dealing with LGBT individuals in a clinical setting, lesbian health, LGBT mental health and general social challenges faced by the LGBT community in Lebanon. This activity was organized by Dr. Sami Richa and the Hotel-Dieu scientific committee.
LebMASH had its third Halloween party and fundraiser in New York City on Friday Oct 30, 2015 at Loft 20. More than 150 people attended the event, some travelling in from Cleveland, SF, Miami, Charleston, Philadelphia, and even Kuwait to attend. Everyone enjoyed Lebanese heavy appetizers, music and a live performance by Sultana. The event was organized by Nizar Ouf and was hosted by LebMASH board members: Omar Harfoush, Hossam Mahmoud, Rami Baz, Lama Bazzi, Omar Fattal, and Hasan Abdessamad. The event raised $16,700. LebMASH would like to thank everyone who supported this event by attending or making a donation and all those who made this event possible especially the organizer Nizar as well as Ziad and Elias who donated the food and supplies and our volunteer Deena.
Our Zoomaal Campaign that ran from Sept. 1st till Nov. 2nd, 2015 just ended raising $5,760 and achieving 115% of our set goal. In content and add title Crowdsourcing saves student scholarship
The campaign received 2277 views, 962 shares and was backed by 57 contributors divided as follows:
- 28 from USA raising $3,685
- 13 from Lebanon raising $1420
- 9 from Canada raising $380
- 7 from Bahamas, Netherlands, UK, Greece, and UAE
Dr. Abdessamad, LebMASH immediate Past-President, saw Ahmad, BTS 2015 winner, in Portland, OR, USA in Sept. at GLMA Annual Meeting. He wrote: I witnessed first-hand the enthusiasm he had for developing his knowledge and expertise in the area of sexual health and LGBT health, and for bringing back to Lebanon his experience to set the track in the right direction towards a more inclusive approach to healthcare and education, with no exclusion based on gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.
LebMASH is mentoring Ahmad to publish his award-winning paper titled The Need for mental health research within the LGBT community in Lebanon in a peer-reviewed medical journal. This is the type of locally-cultivated research and scientific literature that is significantly lacking in Lebanon and that is essential to advance healthcare for all. BTS students who did not win the scholarship are also being mentored into refining their papers to be published on our website.
The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health LebMASH participated in the awareness campaign launched by Embrace Fund on suicide in Lebanon, which took place on September 13th, 2015 in Rawsheh, Beirut.
Women and men (and all others on the gender spectrum) from all backgrounds and of all ages gathered at 5am at Beit el Ward. Among those present were people who have lost a loved one to suicide, others struggling themselves with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, suicide survivors and supporters of this cause.
Silently at the break of dawn, with candles in hand, everybody walked towards the Rawsheh rock a very common “suicide” spot in Lebanon.
Once there, mental health professionals gave their informative speeches whilst suicide survivors shared moving and inspirational testimonials.
The project of launching a suicide hotline was announced. Such an urgent and essential project requires everybody’s donations in order for it to become a reality. Check out their Zoomaal campaign.
Did you know that “Every 3 days, someone commits suicide in Lebanon”?! ( Embrace Life NGO, 2014) Very sad and shocking fact!
Did you also know that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers? (CDC 2011) This is often linked to:
(i) experiences of homophobic victimization (e.g. bullying, verbal and/or physical abuse) as well as
(ii) a high level of rejection by loved ones and especially family members.
These factors are further aggravated in Lebanon due to a culture built on religious beliefs and intolerance making it very hard for the LGBT population to live safely within their environment and at peace with themselves.
Raising awareness is always the first step towards change, which is among LebMASH’s main objectives.
“Never sacrifice who you are because someone has a problem with it” was our slogan during #embracelife’s “Into the dawn suicide memorial walk”. By breaking the silence, we are closer to creating a safe and tolerant environment for all individuals battling with the taboos of mental health problems and suicide, where they can successfully overcome their difficulties.
Written by LebMASH Executive Board Member Vanessa Van Vliet