The Lebanese Penal Code contains an ambiguous article that punishes “any penetration contrary to nature” for up to a year in prison. LGBT activists commonly refer to the article by its number; 534, and fight for its removal claiming it targets same-sex practices, gay men, and lesbian women. Since 2010, several judges have ruled that the article is too ambiguous to be applied to persons arrested for alleged engagement in homosexual practices. But on January 26th 2017, a judge in Beirut not only acquitted 9 persons charged with the article, but also dedicated several pages to redefining homosexual desire as part of “nature” in his ruling. While some activists and LGBT groups were quick to embrace the verdict and applaud the significant legal redefinition, others have argued that the ruling does not mean that the fight for legalizing homosexuality is complete, rather the contrary. The case raises several questions about homosexuality in Lebanon: does the law itself differentiate between a (homo)sexual act and a (homo)sexual orientation? What are the ruling’s implications for the process of on-ground arrests? In this episode, I speak with Ahmad Saleh about his on-ground experience with case work as a previous volunteer in an LGBT organization in Beirut.
Song: OUM TARAGALTE - (Soul Of Morocco)