A Lebanese singer was reportedly denied entry into Canada last week after a Lebanese-Canadian gay rights group petitioned three venues in Ontario and Quebec from performing songs with homophobic and sexist content.
"After succeeding in cancelling all of his three concerts in Canada, Helem Montreal just received a final confirmation that the Canada Border Services Agency has banned the singer Mhamad Eskandar indefinitely from entering Canada. Sexism, homophobia and violence have no place in Canada," read a Sept. 5 post by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights group on their Facebook page.
According to Xtra, Mohamad Eskandar had dates slated for Windsor, Montreal and Ottawa this past weekend. However, HELEM, an organization based in Beirut, Paris and Montreal, found out about the concerts in late August and took action.
Sam Khoury, president of HELEM Montreal, told the Montreal Gazette last week that “the song ["Dod el Enef"] is extremely homophobic and advocates violence against gay people."
"Don't be tender with your boy, and don't treat him like a flower," the lyrics to "Dod el Enef" read when translated into English. "When he makes a mistake, violence is a must. Let him become strong, violent and macho. Otherwise, he will only be a 50 percent man." The Gazette translated other lyrics, including “Without jealousy and real masculinity, women are in trouble. Ever since the military service stopped, half of men became plagued by the disease of femininity" and “If my dad and yours weren’t straight (alternative translation: “macho”), we would not have existed and humans would have become extinct."
HELEM negotiated with the three venues holding Eskandar concerts that such songs wouldn't be performed and the venues agreed. Though the organization decided against protesting each concert, a spokesperson told Xtra "this person should not be allowed in Canada, but we found out about it really late in the process."
Nonetheless, Bikya Masr reported that Eskandar didn't perform on Aug. 31 in Windsor nor the following night in Montreal. Meanwhile, the Sept. 2 concert for Ottawa was postponed. Bikya Masr added that GayStarNews.com reported the singer was denied an entry visa into Canada due to the opposition from various LGBT groups. These groups said his performance would be the equivalent to hate speech, violating the Canadian Criminal Code and the Charter of Rights.
Eskandar had previous concerts protested in Lebanon as well as Denmark in recent years. There's no word if the musician is planning to reapply for a visa entry for possible future Canadian concerts. The website for El Mazaj restaurant, the Ottawa venue where Eskandar was slated to perform, still has a photo of Eskandar posted with details of the Sept. 2 concert.
"The concert of Mohamad Eskandar got postponed to next week," the restaurant's Facebook page said Aug. 31. "The new date will be released by the beginning of the week. Sorry for the inconvenience." Thus far no date has been announced.
Homosexuality is still a criminal act in Lebanon and is punishable by up to a year in jail.