Judge Naji El Dahdah, of Jdeide Court, Beirut, threw out a case brought against an unnamed transgender woman by the Lebanese state on January 28, 2014 but only published on March 4, says a report in the huffingtonpost.co.uk.
The transgender woman was accused by the state of having “same sex relationship with a man.”
El Dahdah rejected the case based on accepting a previous ruling by the Lebanese NGO, Legal Agenda and Helem, which stated that gender identity is not only defined by the legal papers but the evolution of the person and his/her perception of his/her gender.
Homosexuality is an exception to the norms but not unnatural therefore article 534 (which prohibits sexual relations that “contradict the laws of nature”) cannot be used against homosexuals, and therefore, technically, homosexuality is not illegal, it said.
Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits having sexual relations that are “contradicting the laws of nature,” which is punishable by up to a year in prison.
However in 2009, the Lebanon-based LGBT organization Helem successfully promoted a legal campaign that resulted in a Lebanese judge in Batroun ruling against the use of article 534 to prosecute LGBT people.
Georges Azzi, the executive director for the Beirut based Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality told Dan Littauer in the report carried in huffingtonpost.co.uk: “We are moving towards making article 534 completely irrelevant…This has been our strategy since the current political situation in Lebanon does not allow any change in the penal code.”
Although the concept of legal precedent does not apply in Lebanon, hopefully this ruling will encourage more judges to make the right choice, he added.
Azzi expressed the hope that this recent ruling it can be replicated in other Arab states which have similar legislation.