The United Arab Emirates 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.
Types of criminalisation
- Criminalises LGBT people
- Criminalises sexual activity between males
- Criminalises sexual activity between females
- Criminalises the gender expression of trans people
Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 2018, which criminalises same-sex intercourse, ‘indecency’, and ‘displaying indecent or immoral images’. This provision carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment. Both men and women 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 a ‘cross dressing’ law with a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment and a fine.
The provisions have their origins in Islamic law, with the Constitution of Oman designating Islam as the state religion and Sharia law as the basis of legislation. Oman adopted a new Penal Code in 2018 which strengthened the laws against LGBT people.
There is no evidence of the laws against same-sex sexual activity being enforced since 2009, however the law against ‘cross dressing’ is enforced by the government, with the last known prosecutions occurring in 2018. There have been few reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people in Oman in recent years.
A new Penal Code was published by a royal statute in the beginning of the year. The code contains harsher penalties for ‘cross dressing’, consensual same-sex intercourse, public acts of ‘indecency’ and the publication or transmission of ‘words, images or programs contrary to the public order or morals’.
In August, the Consumer Protection Agency confiscated school supplies and toys with rainbow colours in the Ash Sharqiyah South Governorate, citing a threat to public morals.
The US Department of State report for 2020, like all years since the adoption of the 2018 Penal Code, stated that the government did not actively enforce the laws criminalising same-sex sexual activity during the year.
Unlike the laws criminalising same-sex sexual activity, the government did enforce the laws against ‘cross dressing’. In February, two “men dressed as women” were arrested and charged with ‘cross dressing’ after they posted a video on Snapchat. In October, they were sentenced to four years’ imprisonment (having also been charged with another offence).
The US Department of State report noted that there were nine prosecutions for sodomy in 2009.
The US Department of State report found that public discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity remained a social taboo. There were no known LGBT organisations, and authorities blocked LGBT-related content on the internet. The government made no attempt to address anti-LGBT discrimination.
In 2013 a newspaper was suspended for posting a controversial article sympathetic towards LGBT people in Oman. The newspaper later posted a front page apology.
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.
Yemen criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of death by stoning.
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