Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises LGBT people
  • Criminalises sexual activity between males
  • Criminalises sexual activity between females

Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 2014, which criminalises ‘unlawful sexual intercourse’ and ‘unlawful sexual contact’. This provision carries a maximum penalty of eight years’ imprisonment and 100 lashes. Both men and women are criminalised under this law.

Maldives adopted a new Penal Code in 2014 which criminalises same-sex sexual activity, as well as explicitly criminalising same-sex marriage. Maldives also operates a form of Islamic law, under which same-sex sexual activity is prohibited.

There is growing evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, with reports of people being arrested for alleged same-sex sexual activity, with some arrests appearing to be politically motivated. However, it is not clear how many people have been prosecuted under the new Penal Code. Reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people is limited due to the absence of LGBT civil society and social stigma which deters individuals from reporting incidents, thought there have been reports of murder, attacks, and harassment in recent years.

Sexual Offence Law Assessment

We’ve also assessed Maldives’ sexual offence laws against international human rights standards. Not only does Maldives criminalise same-sex sexual activity, it also fails to properly protect other vulnerable groups, such as women, children, and people with disability, from sexual offences.

Find out more


In July authorities arrested three men on “suspicion of engaging in homosexual acts”, including the brother of the current speaker of parliament, a former member of parliament, and an officer with the MPS Drug Enforcement Department. They were all charged with homosexuality. Police also confirmed that were investigating dozens of other individuals. The cases stem from leaked videos that allegedly depicted the men having sex with a Bangladeshi national, M.D. Alamgiri, who was arrested on July 12. Some commentators allege that the arrests were politically motivated.

In August, M.D. Alamgiri was sentenced to seven months in prison. In September, he confessed 40 counts of pornography production. The brother of the speaker of parliament was sentenced to three months in house arrest and the police officer to 14 months in prison.

According to the US Department of State, the courts of the Maldives heard 12 cases of individuals charged for engaging in same-sex relations during the year.


The US Department of State report noted that in June, groups of protestors gathered outside the homes of two men on two separate islands, accusing them of engaging in same-sex relations. Reports suggest that both men were taken into police custody.


In September, police reportedly arrested two men aged 56 and 27 in their private home on the island of Dhaandhoo after receiving a complaint alleging ‘homosexual activity’.


In Malé, the capital of Maldives, a trial for alleged same-sex conduct between a military officer and a security guard began in January.

Speaking about a Maldivian gay man who sought refuge in New Zealand following reported acts of persecution, a spokesman for the President’s office indicated in June that refugees would be prosecuted upon their return to the Maldives.


In August, two men were arrested for reportedly engaging in ‘homosexual activities.’

Discrimination and Violence


The US Department of State report found that there were no reports of officials complicit in abuses against LGBT people, but noted that social stigma likely discouraged reporting. Nevertheless, people who expressed support for LGBT rights on social media were targeted for online harassment.


In July, authorities filed murder charges against three migrant workers for the death of their colleague, who they confessed to killing due to “unwanted advances and forced attempts to have sex”.


The US Department of State report noted that the Ministry of Islamic Affairs continued to block websites considered anti-Islamic or pornographic. As of October, a 2011 Telecommunications Authority ban on a local blog, Hilath.com continued. The original ban came at the request of the Islamic Ministry because of the blog’s alleged anti-Islamic content. The blog was known for promoting religious tolerance, as well as discussing the blogger’s sexual orientation.

In June, a group of men were reportedly attacked for being “gay atheists”. The attackers were recorded as saying: “You homosexual atheists are destroying our country – we will not stand back and watch you do it. 

In a submission to the second UPR cycle in September, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative stated that “the unsatisfactory legal situation [in Maldives] discourages individuals from reporting crimes and incidents relating to LGBT related violence and harassment.” The United Nations Population Fund also submitted that “Stereotypes of homosexual men are often portrayed in the media as effeminate and objects of ridicule. The public sector family planning programme including condoms is couple based.


In April, an openly gay blogger had his throat cut. He has since fled the country.


Local Organisations

Rainbow Maldives

a local organisation working to build a strong community for LGBT people.

Related Countries

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka 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 ten years’ imprisonment and a fine.


Mauritius criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men. Sentences include a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.


Malaysia 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 twenty years’ imprisonment and whipping.

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