In a statement released on Tuesday, March 4, in the quarterly magazine Legal Agenda, it was revealed that a court in Lebanon made a historic ruling stating same-sex relations are not “contradicting the laws of nature.”
A transgender woman was accused by the state of having a same-sex relationship with a man. However, Judge Naji El Dahdah, of Jdeide Court, Beirut threw out the case on January 28, 2014.
The woman on trial was born with an intersex condition but was assigned a male identity. However, after growing up feeling that she was female, she underwent gender reassignment surgery in the 1990s.
Despite the surgery, she was still listed as a male on her identity papers, which led to Lebanese authorities believing she had breached Article 534 of Lebanon’s penal code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual intercourse and subsequently same-sex relationships.
El Dahdah, however, rejected the case based on a previous ruling by Judge Mounir Suleiman in 2009.
According to the Huffington Post, the ruling stated:
– Gender identity is not only defined by the legal papers, the evolution of the person and his/her perception of his/her gender should be taken into consideration.
– Homosexuality is an exception to the norms but not unnatural therefore article 534 (which prohibits sexual relations that “contradict the laws of nature”) cannot be used against homosexuals, and therefore, technically, homosexuality is not illegal.
On top of that, in 2013 the Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) ruled out homosexuality as a mental disorder, saying it does not need to be treated. They also stated that conversion therapy lacks scientific backing and should not be implemented.
In the predominantly Muslim country, these rulings are a significant step forward for Lebanese LGBT rights as Article 534 becomes irrelevant. According to Pew Research, a 2013 study revealed that around 80 percent of the Lebanese public believed that homosexuality should not be socially accepted.
With LGBT groups such as Helem continuing to fight for social acceptance and the recent legal breakthroughs surrounding LGBT rights in many nations, it is clear that even in the most orthodox countries there is a momentum to liberate the LGBT community.