THE Lebanese capital of Beirut held its first LGBTI pride celebration this week—the first in any Arab country.

About 4,000 people attended over a dozen events in the city, The Telegraph has reported.

Festival organiser Hadi Damien said the turnout exceeded expectations.

Lebanon still has laws that discriminate against the LGBTI community, including the threat of jail time for gay sex.

Beirut Pride was scheduled to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

The celebration highlighted many events organised by LGBTI rights groups in the city, who have campaigned for years against homophobia in the region.

The pride festival went ahead despite threats from religious extremists causing the last-minute cancellation of the opening event.

“The hotel apologised and said they couldn’t provide security for everyone,” said Proud Lebanon spokesperson Cosette Maalouf.

“[They] received pressure from the Lebanese authorities to cancel the event.”

Despite the rocky start, the pride celebration was an overall success. Organisers have already begun preparing for next year’s festival.

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