Metro Weekly

Lebanese political party vows to decriminalize gay sex acts

Announcement marks the first time a major political party has taken a pro-LGBTQ rights stance

Image courtesy of Proud Lebanon, via Facebook.

A major political party in Lebanon has announced that one of its top priorities going forward will be advocating for the decriminalization of same-sex consensual sexual acts.

On Sunday, the right-wing Christian Democratic Kataeb party announced their plans to remove the current law criminalizing same-sex acts as a major part of their social agenda live on television.

It was included in the party’s 131 point plan saying they wished to “abrogat[e] all legal provisions that criminalize homosexuality” should the party gain a majority after national elections on May 6.

This marks the first time a major political party has spoken in favor of LGBTQ rights in the Middle Eastern country.

Georges Azzi, the executive director of Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, told Gay Star News that the announcement was “big” for their gay community.

“We have been pushing for parties to publicly support the LGBTI community for a long time.” Azzi said. “We have had closed door promises. But this is the first time politicians have publicly supported us.”

Penal Code Article 534 criminalizes “unnatural” sex and can carry a penalty of up to a year in prison.

While a judge ruled that “homosexuality is a personal choice, and not a punishable offense” last January, police officers still use the law to intimidate and arrest the LGBTQ community.

“If it’s not ordered from the government to arrest people based on sexuality, police still have the right to arrest people,” Azzi said. “We need the highest judiciary to send a message to not use the Penal Code to attack the LGBTI community.”

If candidates that support decriminalization are put into power, Azzi said that the law could be declared unconstitutional shortly.

“We’re going in the right direction,” Azzi said. “We’re hopeful something positive will happen. We need politicians to say this law is not relevant to the LGBTI community or remove it completely. This election is where we have a chance. We’re very hopeful.”

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