Rights Group Calls on Lebanon to Abolish anti-LGBT Law

A decades-old law in Lebanon punishes sexual relations 'contrary to nature' with up to one year in prison

In this October 22, 2015, photo, Daniel Halaby, a gay Syrian who fled from the Islamic State group, poses with the rainbow flag symbolic of LGBT rights in his apartment in southern Turkey. Halaby and others say the militants often torture suspected homosexuals or pore through their laptops and mobile phones trying to track down other gay men. Gays often fear they could be turned over to the militants by friends or family because of the stigma against homosexuality. Halaby spoke on the condition that he be identified by the name he uses in his political activism, and that neither his face nor location be revealed.
AP Photo/Hussein Malla

Human Rights Watch is urging Lebanon to abolish a law criminalizing homosexuality after the top military prosecutor declined to prosecute a “sodomy” case.

The rights group called the decision, which was publicized Monday, a “positive development.”

A decades-old law punishes sexual relations “contrary to nature” with up to one year in prison. But it is rarely enforced in Lebanon, which is less conservative than other countries in the region. Civilian courts have challenged the law in recent years, but this is the first such challenge from a military prosecutor.

The English-language Daily Star reported Monday that a top military prosecutor declined to charge four service members for violating the law. He told the paper the law does not explicitly criminalize “sodomy.”

His office was not available for comment.