Journal of Social and Political


ISSN 2615-3718 (Online)

ISSN 2621-5675 (Print)

Published: 10 May 2019

Homosexuality Legalization in Arab Countries: A Shifting Paradigm or a Wake-up Call

Ghada Awada

American University of Beirut, Lebanon

pdf download

Download Full-Text Pdf


Pages: 320-332

Keywords: Diversity, Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Homophobia, LGBT, Legislations


The study reported how the Arab world perceived homosexuality criminalization and decriminalization in opposition or in alignment with approaches determined in the pre and post-colonial eras in different European and American countries. The focus of the article was to explore the foundations of both homosexuality and anti-homosexuality legislation along with the historical background of the homosexuality issue. The study employed a meta-analysis of studies on homosexuality criminalization and decriminalization starting with the colonial period through the modern era. The methodology employed scientific literature in the analysis to make the study representative and not a priori stigmatizing. The analysis revolved around close readings of precolonial and postcolonial documents. The study looked at the historical evidence indicating the impact of imperial history on homosexuality as based on the dataset of 185 countries. The findings of the study underscored that the question of criminalizing or decriminalizing homosexuality in Arab countries remains debatable due to conflicting views of modernity on one hand and religious and cultural constraints on the other hand.


  1. Adamczyk, A. (2017). Cross-national public opinion about homosexuality. California, CA: University of California Press. Retrieved from:

  2. Andreou, E. (1 Nov. 2016). Church to establish schools to 'give children principles,' preach against homosexuality, archbishop says. Cyprus Mail Retrieved from accountid=8555

  3. Arreola, S., Santos, G. M., Beck, J., Sundararaj, M., Wilson, P. A., Hebert, P., ... & Ayala, G. (2015). Sexual stigma, criminalization, investment, and access to HIV services among men who have sex with men worldwide. AIDS and Behavior, 19(2), 227-234.


  5. Ballman, A. D., Leheney, E. K., Miller, K. E., Simmons, B. L., & Wilson, L. C. (2016). Bystander Perceptions of Same-Gender Versus Mixed-Gender Rape: A Pilot Study. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 25(10), 1079-1096.

  6. Benstead, L. J. (2016). Conceptualizing and Measuring Patriarchy: The Importance of Feminist Theory. Women and Gender in Middle East Politics, 8.

  7. Boushnak, L., & Boshnaq, M. (2017, Dec 31). Coming out in Lebanon, and helping it to be more tolerant. New York Times Retrieved from

  8. Burnett, D. (2015, January 08). Why would people 'choose' to be gay? | Dean Burnett. Retrieved March 26, 2018, from

  9. Brinton, S.(2018). I Was Tortured in Gay Conversion Therapy. And It’s Still Legal in 41 States. New York Times

  10. Cameron, P., Cameron, K. M., & Proctor, K. (2017). Children of homosexuals more apt to become homosexual and experience parental molestation: Surveys over three decades. Marriage & Family Review, 53(5), 429-433.

  11. Cameron, E. (2018). Judges, justice, and public power: the constitution and the rule of law in South Africa. Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, 1-25.

  12. Carroll, A., & Itaborahy, L. P. (2015). State-sponsored homophobia. A World Survey of Laws: Criminalisation, Protection, and Recognition of Same-sex Love. Genf.

  13. Gerstmann, E. (2017). Same-sex Marriage and the Constitution. Cambridge University Press.

  14. Gnuse, R. K. (2015). Seven gay texts: Biblical passages used to condemn homosexuality. Biblical Theology Bulletin, 45(2), 68-87.

  15. Hamdi, N., Lachheb, M., & Anderson, E. (2017). Masculinity, homosexuality, and sport in an Islamic state of increasing homohysteria. Journal of Gender Studies, 26(6), 688-701.

  16. Han, E., O'Mahoney, J. (2018). British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality. London: Routledge.

  17. Han, E., & O'Mahoney, J. (2018). British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality: Queens, Crime and Empire. Routledge.

  18. Han, E., O'Mahoney, J. (2018). British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality. London: Routledge.

  19. Han, E., O'Mahoney, J. (2018). British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality. London: Routledge.

  20. Han, E., O'Mahoney, J. (2018). British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality. London: Routledge.

  21. Han, E., O'Mahoney, J. (2018). British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality. London: Routledge.


  23. Kaoma K. (2018).Is Homosexuality an African or Un-African Human Rights Issue?. In: Christianity, Globalization, and Protective Homophobia. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. DOI

  24. Khazan, O. (2016). How older brothers influence homosexuality. Retrieved from

  25. Knight, C., & Wilson, K. (2016). International Perspectives on the Rights and Criminalization of LGBT People. In Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People (LGBT) and the Criminal Justice System (pp. 207-231). Palgrave Macmillan, London DOI:

  26. Macedo, S. (2015). Just married. New Jersey, NJ: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from:

  27. Moussawi, G. (2017) Queer exceptionalism and exclusion: Cosmopolitanism and inequalities in ‘gay-friendly’ Beirut. The Sociological Review 66(1), 174-190.DOI: 10.1177/0038026117725469

  28. Mohamed, M. S. (2015). Sexuality, Development, and Non-conforming Desire in the Arab World: The Case of Lebanon and Egypt (No. IDS Evidence Report; 158). IDS.

  29. ILGA (2014). State-Sponsored Homophobia 2014. A world survey of laws: Criminalisation, protection, and recognition of same-sex love. International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association,

  30. Itaborahy, L. P., & Zhu, J. (2012). State-sponsored homophobia. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Retrieved June 24, 2013.

  31. Ostien, P and Umaru, M.J. (2007) ‘Changes in the Law in the Sharia States Aimed at Suppressing

  32. Social Vices’ in Philip Ostien, ed Sharia Implementation in Northern Nigeria 1996-2006: A

  33.                 Sourcebook, Vol. 3, pp. 9-75, London: Spectrum Books

  34. Pereira, H. & Monteiro, S. “The Role of Political and Legislative Changes in the Everyday Lives of LGB Individuals: the Case of Portugal” Sexuality Research and Social Policy (2017) 14:300. Retrieved: 15 Mar. 2018. doi: https//

  35. Pullen, C. (2012). LGBT transnational identity and the media. Springer.

  36. Rahman, M. (2018). Postcolonialism and International Relations: Intersections of sexuality, religion, and race. In Race, Gender, and Culture in International Relations (pp. 99-115). Routledge.

  37. Reid, G. (2017, February 02). Lebanon Edges Closer to Decriminalizing Same-sex Conduct. Retrieved from

  38. Rossi, A. L., & Lopez, E. J. (2017). Contextualizing competence: Language and LGBT-based competency in health care. Journal of homosexuality, 64(10), 1330-1349.

  39. Scull, N. C., & Mousa, K. (2017). A Phenomenological Study of Identifying as Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual in an Islamic Country. Sexuality & Culture, 21(4), 1215-1233.

  40. Stacey, J., & Biblarz, T. J. (2017). (How) Does the sexual orientation of parents matter?. American Sociological Review, 159-183.

  41. Sullins, D. P. (2015). Emotional problems among children with same-sex parents: Difference by definition.

  42. Thong, T. (2012). To raise the savage to a higher level: The westernization of Nagas and Their culture 46, no. 4: 893–918.

  43. Vecho, O., Paul Poteat, V., & Schneider, B. (2016). Adolescents' Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption in France. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 12(1), 24-45. DOI:

  44. Whittaker, B (2011) Unspeakable Love: Gay & Lesbian Life in the Middle East 2nd ed. London:

  45. Saqi Books.

  46. Wight RG, LeBlanc AJ, Badgett MVL. (2013).Same-sex legal marriage and psychological well-being: Findings from the California Health Interview Survey. American Journal of Public Health. 2013;103:339–346. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

  47. Wirtschafter, J. (2016). In much of the Middle East, it's getting more dangerous to be gay. Retrieved from

About Us

The Asian Institute of Research is an online and open-access platform to publish recent research and articles of scholars worldwide. Founded in 2018 and based in Indonesia, the Institute serves as a platform for academics, educators, scholars, and students from Asia and around the world, to connect with one another. The Institute disseminates research that is proven or predicted to be of significant influence for the general public.

Stay Connected

  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle

Contact Us

Please send all inquiries to the email:

Business Address:

5th Floor, Kavling 507, Fajar Graha Pena Tower, Jl. Urip Sumohardjo No.20, Makassar, Indonesia 90234

Copyright © 2018 The Asian Institute of Research. All rights reserved