Middle East

Countries where Homosexuality is still a Crime

(in alphabetical order)

In the Middle Eastern region, there are 13 countries that still criminalise homosexuality. Of these 8 have ratified the ICCPR, but none have submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the UN Human Rights Committee by ratifying the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.





Domestic law[*]




Ratified International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)[†]


Ratified Optional Protocol to ICCPR[†]




Penal Code 1976

BOOK TWO SECTION TWO CHAPTER EIGHT: Adultery, Pederasty, and Violations of Honour

Article 427

“(1) A person who commits adultery or pederasty shall be sentenced to long imprisonment.

(2) In one of the following cases commitment of the acts, specified above, is considered to be aggravating conditions:

a. In the case where the person against whom the crime has been committed is not yet eighteen years old. …”

In Afghan legal terminology “pederasty” appears to refer to intercourse between males regardless of age.

Long imprisonment

24 Jan 1983



The Law on the Combating of Prostitution and the Penal Code have been used to imprison gay men.Law 58/1937 promulgating The Penal Code

Article 98(f):

“Detention for a period of not less than six months and not exceeding five years, or paying a fine of 
not less than five hundred pounds and not exceeding one thousand pounds shall be the penalty inflicted on whoever exploits and uses the religion in advocating and propagating by talk or in writing, or by any other method, extremist thoughts with the aim of instigating sedition and division or disdaining and contempting any of the heavenly religions or the sects belonging thereto, or prejudicing national unity or social peace.”

Detention for a duration between 6 months and 5 years; or

Fine between 500 pounds and 1,000 pounds

14 Jan 1982

Article 269 bis:

“Whoever is found on a public road or a traveled and frequented place inciting the passersby with signals or words to commit indecency shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding one month. If the felon recurs to committing this crime within one year of the first crime, the penalty shall become imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding fifty pounds. A ruling of conviction shall necessitate placing the convict under police supervision for a period equal to that of the penalty.”

Imprisonment for up to 1 month; or

Imprisonment for up to 6 months and a fine of up to 50 pounds if committed within one year of first crime.

Article 278:

“Whoever commits in public a scandalous act against shame shall be punished with detention for a period not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding three hundred pounds.”

Detention for up to 1 year or fine of up 300 pounds.
Law 10/1961 on the Combating of Prostitution

Article 9:

“Punishment by imprisonment for a period not less than three months and not exceeding three years and a fine not less than 25 LE and not exceeding 300 LE […] or one of these two punishments applies in the following cases:
(a) Whoever lets or offers in whatever fashion a residence or place run for the purpose of debauchery or prostitution, or for the purpose of housing one or more persons, if they are to his knowledge practicing debauchery or prostitution.

(b) Whoever owns or manages a furnished residence or furnished rooms or premises open to the public and who facilitates the practice of debauchery or prostitution, either by admitting persons so engaged or by allowing on his premises incitement to debauchery or prostitution.

(c) Whoever habitually engages in debauchery or prostitution.

Upon the apprehension of a person in the last category, it 
is permitted to send him for a medical examination. If it is discovered that he is carrying an infectious venereal disease, it is permitted to detain him in a therapeutic institute until his cure is completed.

It is permitted to determine that the convicted person 
be placed, upon completion of his sentence, in a special reformatory until the administrative agency orders his release. This judgment is obligatory in cases of recidivism, and the period spent in the reformatory is not allowed to be more than three years. […]”

Imprisonment for a duration between 3 months and 3 years; and/or

Fine between 25 LE and 300 LE.

May be placed in a special reformatory upon completion of sentence for up to 3 years.




The British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance, No. 74 of 1936

Section 152(2) criminalizes sexual acts between men with a penalty of up to 10 years.

Imprisonment for 10 years



Islamic Penal Code of Iran of 1991 Book 2, Part 2 (Punishment for Sodomy)

Chapter 1 (Definition of Sodomy)

Article 108

Sodomy is sexual intercourse with a male.

Article 109

In case of sodomy both the active and the passive persons will be condemned to its punishment.

Article 110

Punishment for sodomy is killing; the Sharia judge decides on how to carry out the killing.

Article 111

Sodomy involves killing if both the active and passive persons are mature, of sound mind and have free will.

Article 112

If a mature man of sound mind commits sexual intercourse with an immature person, the doer will be killed and the passive one will be subject to Ta’azir of 74 lashes if not under duress.

Article 113

If an immature person commits sexual intercourse with another immature person, both of them will be subject to Ta’azir of 74 lashes unless one of them was under duress.

Chapter 2 (Ways of proving sodomy in court)

Article 114

By confessing after four lashes to having committed sodomy, punishment is established against the one making the confession.

Article 115

A confession made before receiving four lashes
(to having committed sodomy) does not involve punishment
of “Had” but the confessor will be subject to Ta’azir (lesser punishments).

Article 116

A confession is valid only if the confessor is mature, of sound mind, has will and intention.

Article 117

Sodomy is proved by the testimony of four righteous men who might have observed it.

Article 118

If less than four righteous men testify, sodomy
is not proved and the witnesses shall be condemned to punishment for Qazf (malicious accusation).

Article 119

Testimony of women alone or together with a man does not prove sodomy.

Article 120

The Sharia judge may act according to his own knowledge which is derived through customary methods.

Death for mature person

74 lashes for immature person unless they were under duress

24 Jun 1975

Article 121

Punishment for Tafhiz (the rubbing of the thighs
or buttocks) and the like committed by two men without entry, shall be hundred lashes for each of them.

Article 122

If Tafhiz and the like are repeated three lashes without entry and punishment is enforced after each time, the punishment for the fourth time would be death.

Article 123

If two men not related by blood stand naked under one cover without any necessity, both of them will be subject to Ta’azir of up to 99 lashes.

Article 124

If someone kisses another with lust, he will be subject to Ta’azir of 60 lashes.

Article 125

If the one committing Tafhiz and the like or a homosexual man, repents before the giving of testimony by the witnesses, his punishment will be quashed; if he repents after the giving of testimony, the punishment will not be quashed.

Article 126

If sodomy or Tafhizis proved by confession and thereafter he repents the Shariajudge may request the leader (Valie Amr) to pardon him.

100 lashes for Tafhiz

Death if Tafhiz and the like are repeated for the fourth time

99 lashes for unrelated men standing under one cover without any necessity

60 lashes for kissing another with lust

Part 3 (Lesbianism)Article 127

Mosaheqeh (lesbianism) is homosexuality of women by genitals

Article 128

The ways of proving lesbianism in court are the same by which the homosexuality (of men) is proved.

Article 129

Punishment for lesbianism is hundred (100) lashes for each party.

Article 130

Punishment for lesbianism will be established vis-a -vis someone who is mature, of sound mind, has free will and intention.

Note: In the punishment for lesbianism there will be no distinction between the doer and the subject as well as a Muslim or non-Muslim.

Article 131

If the act of lesbianism is repeated three lashes and punishment is enforced each time, death sentence will be issued the fourth time.

Article 132

If a lesbian repents before the giving of testimony by the witnesses, the punishment will be quashed; if she does so after the giving of testimony, the punishment will not be quashed.

Article 133

If the act of lesbianism is proved by the confession
of the doer and she repents accordingly, the Sharia judge may request the leader (ValieAmr) to pardon her.

Article 134

If two women not related by consanguinity stand naked under one cover without necessity, they will be punished to less than hundred (100) lashes (Ta’azir). In case of its repetition as well as the repetition of punishment, hundred (100) lashes will be hit the third time.

100 lashes for each party

Death if act is repeated for the fourth time

Less than 100 lashes for unrelated women standing naked under one cover without any necessity




After the American invasion in 2003 the Penal Code
 of 1969 was reinstated in Iraq. This code does not prohibit same-sex relations.  However, various reports have shown that self-proclaimed Sharia judges have sentenced people to death for committing homosexual acts and that militias frequently have kidnapped, threatened and killed LGBT people.  

25 Jan 1971



Penal Code, Law No. 16 of June 2, 1960, as amended in 1976

Article 193

“Consensual intercourse between men of full age (from the age of 21) shall be punishable with a term of imprisonment of up to seven years.”

Such relations with a man under 21 years of age are criminalised by article 192.

Imprisonment for up to 7 years

21 May 1996




Penal Code of 1943

Article 534

“Any sexual intercourse against nature is punished with up to one year of imprisonment”.

Imprisonment for up to 1 year

3 Nov 1972



Omani Penal Code of 1974

Article 33

“The following are deemed as disgracing crimes:

I. All felonies punishable by a coercive sentence.

II. All misdemeanours stated hereafter:

7.Homosexual and lesbian intercourses;”

Homosexual and Lesbian Intercourses

Article 223

“Anyone who commits erotic acts with a person of the same sex shall be sentenced to imprisonment from six months to three years. The suspects of homosexual or lesbian intercourse shall be prosecuted without a prior complaint, if the act results in
a public scandal. The suspects of lesbian intercourse among ascendants, descendants or sisters shall only be prosecuted upon a complaint from a relative or a relative by marriage forth-degree removed.”

Imprisonment for a period between 6 months and 3 years



Penal Code (Law No. (II) of 2004)

Sexual acts with a female over the age of 16 are prohibited by article 281, while sexual acts with a male are prohibited by article 281 and 285.

Imprisonment for up to 7 years

Along with the civil Penal Code also Islamic Sharia Law is in force in Qatar, although only applicable to Muslims. The offence of “Zina” makes any sexual act by a married person outside of marriage punishable by death, while sexual acts by non-married persons are punishable
by flogging – both offences no matter if they were heterosexual or homosexual. Death for any sexual act by a married person outside of marriage

Flogging for sexual acts by non-married persons


Saudi Arabia 

There is no codified Penal Law in Saudi-Arabia. Instead, the country applies strict Islamic Sharia Law. According to the interpretation sodomy is criminalised. For a married man the penalty is death by stoning, while the penalty for an unmarried man is 100 blows of the whip as well as banishment for a year. For a non-Muslim, who commits sodomy with a Muslim, the penalty is death by stoning. Moreover are all sexual relations outside of marriage illegal in Saudi-Arabia according to the Sharia law, including sexual relations between women. Married men: death by stoning

Unmarried men: 100 blows of the whip and banishment for a year

Non-Muslim: death by stoning




Penal Code of 1949

Article 520

“Any unnatural sexual intercourse shall be punished with a term of imprisonment of up to three years.”

Imprisonment for up to 3 years

21 Apr 1969

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emrites 

All sexual acts outside of heterosexual marriage are banned in the United Arab Emirates.  However, whether sodomy is punished with death penalty remains in dispute. The Arabic text of article 354 is ambiguously phrased and can be translated in different ways. Some sources indicate that the article punishes rape of a woman or forced sodomy with a man, while others indicate that it punishes rape on women and sodomy between men. Whether sodomy is punished with death penalty remains in dispute

Apart from federal law, consensual sodomy is criminalised in the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Article 80 of the Dubai Penal Code punishes sodomy with a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment, while Article 177 of the Abu Dhabi Penal Code punishes such acts with a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.

Dubai: Imprisonment for up to 14 years

Abu Dhabi: Imprisonment for up to 10 years



Penal Code 1994

Article 264

“Homosexuality between men is defined as penetration into the anus. Unmarried men shall be punished with 100 lashes of the whip or a maximum of one year of imprisonment, married men with death by stoning.”

100 lashes; or

Imprisonment for 1 yearMarried men: death by stoning

9 Feb 1987

Article 268

“Homosexuality between women is defined as sexual stimulation by rubbing. The penalty for premeditated commission shall be up to three years of imprisonment; where the offence has been committed under duress, the perpetrator shall be punishable with up to seven years detention.”

Imprisonment for up to 3 years if consensual

Imprisonment for up to 7 years if under duress


[*]           Data and unofficial translations of laws are sourced from Lucas Paoli Itaborahy and Jingshu Zhu, State Sponsored Homophobia Report, (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, 6th ed, May 2013.

[†]           Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, ‘Ratification status by country or by treaty’ <http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?Treaty=CCPR&Lang=en&gt;

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