ADDED ON: 08/11/2020

Beirut explosion nearly destroys LGBTQ group’s offices

08/10/2020 | Washington Blade

A massive explosion that killed more than 200 people in Beirut on Aug. 4 nearly destroyed the offices of Lebanon’s oldest LGBTQ advocacy group. Helem’s offices are located less than a mile from the city’s port where the explosion took place. Helem Executive Director Tarek Zeidan on Monday told the Washington Blade during a Skype interview the blast damaged buildings up to 10 miles away. “You can imagine how close we were,” said Zeidan. “Nothing much of inside the center remains: Doors, windows, fixtures, furniture, everything was blown out.” Zeidan said the explosion injured several Helem staffers. “They had to be taken to the hospital that night for their wounds to be stitched, but thankfully no one lost their life,” he said. Helem was founded in 2001. Its offices are located in Beirut’s Mar Mikhael and Gemmayzeh neighborhoods, which Zeidan described to the Blade as “the most vibrant … most LGBT-friendly neighborhoods in the entire Arab World, much less in Lebanon and in the city.” Zeidan said a lot of bars, coffee shops, art galleries and nightclubs were located in the area.

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