Military court undercuts Lebanon’s anti-gay law

Lebanon’s top military prosecutor ruled yesterday that gay sex is not a crime, adding to a series of legal rulings that Lebanon’s law against sex “contrary to nature” does not apply to same-sex love.

Soldiers guard Lebanon's military courthouse. File photo (Hasan Shaaban photo courtesy of the Daily Star)
Soldiers guard Lebanon’s military courthouse in photo from 2012. (Hasan Shaaban photo courtesy of the Daily Star)

Several lower courts in Lebanon have ruled in recent years that consensual same-sex relations are not unnatural. Last July, the Lebanon court of appeal agreed.

So far, Lebanon’s anti-sodomy law has not been overturned, but legally it’s on shaky ground.

The Beirut-based Daily Star reported today:

Top military prosecutor rules homosexuality not a crime in landmark decision

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top military prosecutor has ruled that homosexuality is not a crime, deciding not to prosecute a case of “sodomy.”

Four military personnel had been referred to the court to face the accusation, after they had been subject to disciplinary action and dismissed from their posts.

Lebanon's location in the Middle East. (Map courtesy of CountryReports.org)
Lebanon’s location in the Middle East. (Map courtesy of CountryReports.org)

Judge Peter Germanos in the landmark decision Saturday decided not to charge them with or issue arrest warrants for violating Penal Code Article 534, which states that “any sexual act contrary to nature is punishable by imprisonment of one year.”

Germanos told The Daily Star that “sodomy is not punishable by law,” as Article 534 is not explicit in terms of what kind of relationship can be considered “contrary to nature” and does not distinguish between male and female.

He did not provide further details on the case.

A judicial source said that he expected the military would put forward an appeal to take the case to a higher court.

Those charged with homosexuality in Lebanon have largely been accused of breaking the law based on Article 534.

While judges in civilian courts have decided not to punish people for homosexuality under Article 534, this is the first time such a ruling has been issued within the military judiciary, the source said.

In July 2018, the Penal Appeal Court in Mount Lebanon upheld a decision by a Metn judge to prevent the prosecution of nine people charged with violating Article 534, after an appeal had been filed against the initial ruling.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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