Helem Claims Legalization of Homosexuality in Lebanon is far-fetched

Helem, a well-known LGBTQ+ organisation in Lebanon, claims that the legalization of homosexuality does not seem accessible anytime soon.

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“With our political system, we are very restrained of political leaders,” Joesph Aoun, Coordinator of the Community Center at Helem says. “It’s going to take some time before any decriminalization occurs, unless some relativity is introduced into our laws,” he continues.

Just last month, Judge Rabih Maalouf debunked Article 534 which says “any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature is punishable by up to one year in prison,” by referring to Article 183 which promotes “an act undertaken in exercise of a right without abuse shall not be regarded as an offense.” This ruling came after a gay couple was held by police forces.

Aoun spoke about the influence Helem had on this ruling.

“Judge Maalouf went by an explanation provided by Helem that was discussed with the legal agenda about 2 years ago,” he said. “We were praying article 183 would be put into power, and it was!”

He proceeded to congratulate Maalouf for not ruling based on previous negative rulings.

“Usually other judges that encounter a case like this use Article 534 as their backing only because other judges before them did so. This is all because what is taken as unnatural is not exactly clear,” Aoun claims. “I applaud Judge Maalouf for defying the odds.”

Rabih Maalouf is one of the four judges to rule against article 534. In 2009, Helem came out with a legal campaign which sucessfully resulted in a judge ruling against the use of article 534. In 2014, Judge Naji El Dahda debunked a case against a transgender woman accused of having “same-sex relations with another man.” In 2016, another court ruling that stood by the LGBTQ+ community was successfully fulfilled. And recently, Judge Rabih Maalouf was added to a hopefully soon-to-be longer list.

“I feel like, now more than ever, more rulings like this will start to be put into place,” Aoun says.

Aoun stresses that Helem’s main focus is to get rid of the article 534.

“Right now, there are two ways legalization can be accomplised. Either by the parliament or the debunking of Article 534,” he claims. “However, unless some bigger forces speak out and represent the minority that is the LGBTQ+ community, the parliament is out of the question. That is why our main focus is to get rid of the article, because it seems more in our reach,” he continues.

The fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Lebanon continues, and seems like a very lengthy road still to be traveled.