Lebanon: Homosexuality is Not a Crime
Al Bawaba, Lebanon, 3/31/2019
Lebanon's top military prosecutor recently ruled that homosexuality is not a crime, local newspaper The Daily Star reported. Judge Peter Germanos on March 30, 2019, chose to not to prosecute four soldiers dismissed from their posts in a ‘sodomy’ case, saying that ‘sodomy is not punishable by law’ and that homosexuality is ‘not a crime’. Historically, people ‘charged with’ homosexuality in Lebanon have been punished under an article that outlaws ‘unnatural relations’ with up to one year in prison. But Germanos argued that the Lebanese penal code fails to determine what sexual acts are ‘against nature’, and hence, homosexuality could not be prosecuted based on it. The move comes after an appeals court in 2018 upheld an acquittal of nine people prosecuted for being gay.
Brunei Defends its Right to Stone People to Death for Homosexuality and Adultery Under Strict New Sharia Laws
The Daily Mail, Brunei, 3/30/2019
Brunei has defended its right to stone people to death for homosexuality and adultery under Sharia law against growing global criticism. It will implement the new laws from April 3, 2019, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with the death penalty, and theft with amputation. The laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014 and which have been rolled out in phases since then, will be fully implemented from the coming week. The expected implementation of the strict Islamic laws has drawn widespread criticism. In the recent past, instances of public punishments or executions for people engaging in same-sex intimacy have increased in Brunei’s neighbouring countries, Malaysia and Indonesia, which has become a concerning trend.
Sex Work Might be Decriminalised
Sowetan, South Africa, 3/29/2019
At the inauguration of a newly-built court in Oakdene, Johanneburg, on March 29, 2019, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in front of dozens of women and civil organisations that the government is looking into decriminalising sex work. The president told his audience that the government and its partners were working to review existing laws and policies that relate to gender-based violence and femicide, and in this process, they felt the decriminalisation of sex work to be a pertinent issue. His statement was well received by women activists and members of non-governmental organisations working against gender-based violence. The new court, which is equipped with a fully-fledged sexual offences wing, will also offer a range of services to address gender-based violence.
Brunei to Impose Death by Stoning for Gay Sex and Adultery
Jakarta Post, Brunei, 3/28/2019
Adultery and ‘gay sex’ in Brunei will be subject to death by stoning from the coming week, authorities said, under a strict Sharia law that has been on hold for four years amid heavy criticism. Rights groups reacted in horror on March 27, 2019, to the latest hardline move from the resource-rich nation on Borneo, which practises a stricter brand of Islam than its neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia. Homosexuality is already illegal in Brunei but it will now become a capital offence. The law only applies to Muslims. Amnesty International on March 27, 2019, urged Brunei to ‘immediately halt’ implementing the new penalties. ‘To legalise such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself,’ Brunei researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said in a statement.
Indonesian University Censors Lesbian Love Story
Human Rights Watch, Indonesia, 3/26/2019
A student news website in Indonesia that published a story about a woman expressing her love for another woman was ordered by university officials to shut down its entire news operation after the story went viral. North Sumatra University (USU), a public university, gave the 18 students who write for and publish Suara USU (USU News) just 48 hours to shut down and vacate the newsroom. The 1,000-word story, “Semua Menolak Kehadiran Diriku di Dekatnya” (Everyone Refuses My Presence Near Her), was published on Suara USU’s website on March 12, 2019. Authorities said the story ‘violated campus values’ by ‘promoting homosexuality’, while the students who published the story stood by it. Incidents like this can be traced to the anti-LGBT moral panic that has recently engulfed Indonesia.