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Lebanon: It's OK to be Gay

A Beirut court dismissed a case involving a transgender woman, applying a previous ruling which claimed that homosexuality is not unnatural.

A Lebanese court has ruled that it really is ok to be gay. The historic ruling stated that same-sex relations are not "contradicting the laws of nature" and cannot therefore be considered a crime. Judge Naji El Dahdah, of Jdeide Court, Beirut, threw out a case brought against unnamed transgender woman accused by the state of having "same sex relationship with a man."

However, the judge rejected the case based on accepting a previous ruling by the Lebanese NGO, Legal Agenda and Helem, which claimed that homosexuality was not unnatural and therefore not illegal under Lebanese law. The country's penal code prohibits having sexual relations that are "contradicting the laws of nature," which is punishable by up to a year in prison.

In 2009, the Lebanon-based LGBT organisation Helem successfully mounted a legal campaign that resulted in a Lebanese judge in Batroun ruling against the use of article 534 to prosecute LGBT people. Meanwhile, last year the Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) ruled that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and does not need to be treated.

And some believe that the ruling could pave the way for similar policies in other Arab states. Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality director Georges Azzi said: "Hopefully it can be replicated in other Arab states which have similar legislation, but it is up to the judges to work with previous rulings and documentation."


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