rights for all
Psychologist Brigitte Khoury is changing the way LGBT people
in Lebanon see themselves, and how others perceive and
treat them in the health-care system and beyond.
By Tori DeAngelis
When Lebanese-born psychologist Brigitte Khoury, PhD, attended psychology graduate school in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1990s, many of her friends, colleagues and
professors were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). While not
gay herself, Khoury appreciated how open and proactive they were about
their rights — a stark contrast to the climate in her native Lebanon, where
homosexuality remains illegal and LGBT citizens are more likely to be
closeted and fearful.
Khoury received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Palo Alto
University in 1996 and went on to complete her postdoctoral training
at Stanford University. When she returned to Lebanon in 1997 to take a
position at the American University of Beirut (AUB), she knew she wanted
to help LGBT people there flourish as much as their U.S. peers. Among her
other responsibilities, she spent the next 18 years working to improve the
health and mental health care of LGBT citizens, work she continues today.
“I realized coming back to Lebanon that [the laws] were so unfair to
such a large percentage of the population,” says Khoury. “LGBT people are
a very vital and important part of society. We can’t just ignore them” — or
worse, shun or imprison them.
For these long-standing efforts on behalf of Lebanese LGBT people,
Khoury won a special, first-time award from the Lebanese Medical
Association for Sexual Health, or LebMASH, a nongovernmental agency
of health-care providers devoted to improving the sexual health of all
Lebanese people and the general health of LGBT people. Called the Leader