Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises LGBT people
  • Criminalises sexual activity between males
  • Criminalises the gender expression of trans people

Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 1943, which criminalises ‘sexual intercourse against nature’. This provision carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment. Only men are criminalised under this law. In addition to potentially being captured by laws that criminalise same-sex activity, trans people may also face prosecution under the law prohibiting ‘disguising as a woman’ with a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment.

Lebanon was under the control of France until independence in 1943. Lebanon adopted a new penal code that same year, which criminalised same-sex sexual activity, and continues to maintain this statute today.

There is some evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, with LGBT people being occasionally subject to arrest. A series of rulings in recent years have found that same-sex sexual activity is not a crime, however this does not appear to have become universal, and the possibility of arrest continues.

There have been some reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people in recent years, and transgender women are particularly vulnerable to physical and verbal abuse, as well as discrimination in accessing services.



The US Department of State report found that the law was occasionally enforced in both civilian and military courts.

In February, the Government Commissioner to the Military Court issued a decision not to prosecute four soldiers accused of having same-sex sexual activity. This was the second such instance in the previous year (see below), leading to some government, judicial, legal, and NGO actors to question whether the law actually criminalises same-sex sexual activity.


In 2019, a military prosecutor in Beirut acquitted four military personnel of same-sex sexual activity charges. The judge cleared the group of charges and declined to issue warrants for their arrest on the basis that the law does not specify which relationships can be considered ‘contrary to nature’. This was the first ruling of its kind by a military prosecutor.

In April, a civilian court sentenced two men accused of same-sex sexual activity under article 534. They were given a fine rather than a prison sentence.


Nine people were arrested on suspicion of being gay and transgender. A criminal court acquitted them in 2017, which was confirmed by the appeal court in 2018 (see above). 


The US Department of State report indicated that enforcement is rare, with a Lebanese NGO reporting fewer than ten criminal prosecutions in 2010.

Discrimination and Violence


In September, at least three people were injured when protesters at a Freedom March for LGBT rights were attacked by a group of Christian extremists Jnoud El-Rab or ‘Soldiers of God’.

In August, Amnesty International condemned an attack on an LGBT bar in Beirut by the same group Jnoud El-Rab. Members of the group destroyed furniture in the bar and assaulted guests perceived as LGBT. When the Internal Security Forces arrived at the scene, they prevented the aggressors from entering the bar and aided some guests in their attempts to leave, but they did not stop the attack or arrest any of the assailants.

In July, the leader of the Hezbollah political party called for gay and lesbian people to be killed on the social media platform X, which sparked further violence against the LGBT community.

This wave of violence followed the introduction of a bill in Parliament in July to repeal section 534 of the Penal Code and decriminalise ‘sexual intercourse against the order of nature’.


The US Department of State cited a report by local LGBT NGO Helem documenting 475 cases of violence against LGBT individuals in 2022, including 15 kidnappings, 299 instances of physical abuse, 132 death threats, 29 rapes and 311 cases of verbal abuse.


The US Department of State report cited NGOs which stated that official and societal discrimination against LGBT people persisted, and that LGBT refugees reported physical abuse by local gangs. The COVID-19 lockdown posed increased risks to the community which depended on centres, social networks, and NGOs for emotional and financial support.


A report in September documented the treatment of transgender women in Lebanon, noting that they face systemic violence and discrimination, including in employment, healthcare, housing, and in accessing other services.


In May, the authorities cancelled events within the program launched to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and briefly arrested Beirut Pride Week’s organiser Hadi DamienHe was subsequently interrogated for allegedly “encouraging debauchery and offending public decency”. Damien was released after the authorities asked him to sign a pledge calling off the rest of the festival’s events in exchange for his release.

In October, Lebanese General Security officers tried to end NEDWA, an LGBT conference. Police disrupted the third day of the conference and allegedly took details of all its participants, which included those from countries with repressive laws, including Egypt and Iraq.


In August, local NGOs in Beirut condemned the arrest of 27 men over allegations concerning their sexual orientation. According to reports, the raid came following an accusation that the men were having “sexual encounters” with other men.


In June, a Human Rights Watch report documented the treatment of LGBT people in detention. Security forces subjected detainees, including LGBT people, to beatings, handcuffing in uncomfortable positions for hours, and the denial of food, water, and medication.

Other Developments


In May, the LGBT community of Beirut hosted their first pride celebration. Despite threats of violence, multiple events were held in Beirut’s cultural centers, bars, offices and outdoor venues. These events included exhibitions, talks, concerts, parties, performances and screenings. In a country where homosexual acts remain illegal, some 4,000 people attended.


Local Organisations


a Lebanese organisation working to empower LGBT people and advocate for their rights.


a local organisation advocating for the rights of LBTQ women in Lebanon.


a regional organisation which works to improve the health and wellbeing of marginalised groups, including LGBT people, in Lebanon.

Proud Lebanon

an organisation providing legal support and other services for LGBT people.

Related Countries


Syria criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.

Saudi Arabia

Country profile of Saudi Arabia. LGBT people are Saudi Arabia criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. The gender expression of trans people is also criminalised. Sentences include a maximum penalty of death. under Sharia Law.


Egypt criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men. Sentences include a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine.

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