A Lebanese band with an openly gay lead singer, who are known for their controversial lyrics, have been banned from performing a concert in Jordan.
Alternative rock group Mashrou’ Leila have been described as 'the soundtrack to the Arab Spring', due to their popular satirical songs, which deal with homosexuality and immigration, as well as politics, war and love.
Posting on their social media outlets last night, the band wrote that they were now unable to perform their concert in Amman, which had been scheduled for this Friday, April 29.
"The written justification officially provided is that the performance would have been at odds with what the Ministry of Tourism viewed as the 'authenticity' of the site, despite the fact that we had the chance to perform for you at the same specific site three times in the past and had followed the same permit procedure before the competent authorities," the band explained.
They added that they had been told unofficially that this was actually because on an intervention by authorities.
"We also have been unofficially informed that we will never be allowed to play again anywhere in Jordan due to our political and religious beliefs and endorsement of gender equality and sexual freedom."
The band formed in 2008 at the American University of Beirut, and have released four studio albums. Their 28-year-old lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is gay, and fights openly on behalf of LGBT rights in the Middle East. He has even appeared on the cover of France's now-defunct LGBT magazine Tetu.
In the statement, the band denounce the "systematic prosecution" of voices of political dissent, of advocates of sexual and religious freedom, and of the censorship of artists anywhere in the world.
They go on to praise Jordan for having some of the most "supportive, beautiful and kind people," pointing out that it is also the only place where their Palestinian fans get to come and see them play. They plead with the country to reconsider its stance.
"We will fight, as we have always done, for our right to freely play our music and speak our mind."
Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato cancel North Carolina shows over anti-LGBT HB2 law
Interview: Author Saleem Haddad on the Middle East's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' gay culture