Lesbian and Gay Rights in the Middle East


With the recent decriminalization of gay sex in India through a high court order that effectively ended a colonial-era law and made the country the 127th country to legalize same-sex relations, I looked into a post on the Foreign Policy blog that mentioned a study by The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) called the 2009 Report on State-Sponsored Homophobia.

Here are highlights specifically for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Click here for a larger map of the world and gay rights, as seen in th picture.

-homosexual acts legalized in 1976

-male/male: illegal, female/female: legal
-Article 193: "consensual intercourse between men of full age (from the age 21) shall be punishable with a term of imprisonment of up to seven years"
-Such relations with a man under 21 years of age is criminalised in Article 192.

-male/male: illegal, female/female: illegal
-Article 223: "any individual who commits sexual acts with a person of the same sex shall be prosecuted, even if no complaint is made, for committing homosexual or lesbian acts if the act causes a public nuisance and shall be punished with a term of imprisonment of between six months and three years"

-male/male: illegal, female/female: illegal
-sexual acts with a female over the age of 16 are prohibited by article 281, while sexual acts with a male are prohibited by article 284. The penalty is up to seven years imprisonment for both female and male sexual acts.

Saudi Arabia
-male/male: illegal, female/female: illegal
-No codified penal law in Saudi Arabia because the country applies strict Sharia law only. For a married man the penalty is death by stoning, while the penalty for an unmarried man is 100 blows of the whip as well as banishment for a year. For a non-Muslim, who commits sodomy with a Muslim, the penalty is death by stoning.
-For conviction, it must be proved either by a confession of the culprit four times, or "testimony of four trustworthy Muslim men"
-All sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal by Sharia law, including sex between women.

United Arab Emirates
-male/male: illegal, female/female: illegal
-All sexual acts outside of heterosexual marriage are banned in the UAE, but there is dispute whether sodomy should be punishable by death since Article 354 is ambiguous in its translation.
-Article 34: "any individual who forcibly compels a woman to carnal copulation or a man to sodomy is punished by death"
-Besides federal law, consensual sodomy is criminalised in the emirates of Dubai and Aby Dhabi. Article 80 of the Dubai Penal Code punishes sodomy with a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. Article 177 of Abu Dhabi penal code punishes such acts with a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.

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