Homosexuality and double standards in the Arab world

7 June 2016 | In the Media
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The social rejection of homosexuality in the Arab world is reflected in the laws of their countries, which consider it a crime to a greater or lesser degree. On the ground, this means marginalization, persecution, aggression and imprisonment, as evidenced by one of the latest cases in Morocco that has had international resonance. In early March, a group of men beat up a gay couple, mocked them by posting a video of the assault on social media, and in the first instance, the victims were fined and sent to prison.

All in all, in the Arab world, activists for the rights of homosexuals and, in general, those of the LGBT movement, must be considered “heroes”, says Lurdes Vidal. The head of the Arab and Mediterranean World department of ​​the IEMed has outlined how homosexuals are treated in the different countries of the region and a certain double standard underlying these societies in an interview today on Catalunya Ràdio’s Mapamundi program.

Vidal stressed that the laws of Lebanon and Jordan are the most open in the region. However, in some of the most permissive countries, such as Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, prison sentences and fines are imposed. In Egypt, the penal code does not prohibit homosexual relations but other accusations apply to the collective, such as violating public order and morality. In the United Arab Emirates, those imprisoned for homosexual crimes have been given male hormones to “cure” them. In Saudi Arabia and Yemen, punishment can be the death penalty, but Iraq is considered the worst country in the region to be gay – since the invasion and civil war in the country, nearly 500 homosexuals have been murdered in a systematic sexual cleansing campaign.

The argument behind this criminalization of homosexuality is often religious in nature, Vidal said. However, the Qur’an only makes explicit reference to sodomy when it speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah, and these verses have a controversial interpretation – some consider it a prohibition of homosexual relations and others a condemnation of forced relationships.