This paper studies the role of the European Union (EU) in supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by focusing on the case of Lebanon. It seeks to fill the existing gap in the literature regarding the transversal conceptualization of EU practices in support of LGBTI communities in the MENA by focusing on what is happening on the ground. The paper builds on semi-structured interviews and engages with primary and secondary literature on practices in international relations and the EU’s transversal democracy promotion to answer three main questions: To what extent do the EU agents engage with local actors to improve transversal minority rights? Who are the agents involved? And what influences the EU approach/practice in this area? The main findings reveal the EU as a subtle actor when it comes to LGBTI rights in the MENA; it tends to treat the matter within a broader human rights aspect and to support initiatives taken by locals. This is due to the sensitivity of the domestic context as well as awareness that it might have a negative effect on the LGBTI groups if the EU became more vocal.
- EU democracy promotion
- EU practices
- civil society
- lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender intersex (LGBTI)