Posted by: G-AZZI | November 16, 2010

Beyond racism

A few weeks ago, a friend in Sri Lanka sent me an email informing me that one of his friends, who I will call Sayta, found a job in Beirut as an architect, and that he will be moving to Beirut soon. Sayta is gay and a transvestite. The news was really refreshing for me; a transvestite from Sri Lanka had managed to get a job as an architect in Lebanon, despite our infamous racist and homophobic attitudes. I really thought that there was hope for my country after all.

I got in touch with Sayta, who was really excited about coming to Beirut to discover the gay life here. Sayta explained to me that he had found his job through a recruitment agency in Colombo but they had not yet told him the name of the Lebanese firm that would be hiring him. The story sounded suspicious to me, so I asked Sayta to insist on getting the name of the architecture company. At that point, I just wanted to make sure the company was worth him quitting his job in Colombo and travelling all the way to Beirut.

Sayta called the recruitment agency and consistently pushed for the name of the company. After a month of dodging responses, followed by a variety of lame excuses, they finally sent him an email informing him that the company in Beirut had decided to hire a woman instead and that they would find him a job in a different country.

I do not have enough information about this agency, but my guess is that Sayta was most probably about to become a victim of human trafficking. A so-called woman had ended up with his so-called position in Lebanon, which most probably means that another architect from Sri Lanka – who was not fortunate enough to know someone in Lebanon prior to getting into the entire ordeal – is now miles away from home, perhaps traumatized to discover that s/he was victim of a trafficking mafia, forced into cheap labor and facing racism daily.

How many Saytas are there in Lebanon?

Shouldn’t civil society and human rights organizations in Lebanon investigate these agencies more and raise awareness about them?



  1. its like slavery all over again..

  2. Still lots of work to do dear Georges!
    Rejoice …. the fight just started….
    love u & thanks for all these nice articles…

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