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Everyone should have the right to express their love - except in the Middle East Open in fullscreen

Shams Al-Shakarchi

Everyone should have the right to express their love - except in the Middle East

Gay Muslims show their colours at London Pride [The New Arab]

Date of publication: 8 July, 2017

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As Londoners on Saturday marked 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, same-sex relationships in some countries in the Middle East are still punishable by death.
The streets of London on Saturday became a sea of rainbows and glitter as an expected one million people marched in celebration and solidarity with LGBT communities.

With the theme of Love Happens Here, the annual Pride parade also marked 50 years since the decriminilisation of homosexuality in the UK.

But unfortunately, not every country in the world can display such sentiments - and some parts of Middle East still carry the most extreme punishments for same sex relationships.

Under Sharia law in Iran, homosexual intercourse between men can be punished by death, and men can be flogged for lesser acts such as kissing, while women may be flogged.

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, where authorities rule by a strict interpretation of Sharia law, a married man engaging in sodomy or any non-Muslim who commits sodomy with a Muslim can be stoned to death. All sex outside of marriage is illegal.

In Yemen, according to a 1994 penal code, married men can be sentenced to death by stoning for homosexual intercourse.

Punishments in other countries where homosexuality is illegal include imprisonment.

However, even where homosexual acts are legal in the Middle East, a largely conservative Muslim society where open displays of same-sex love and being transgender are severely frowned upon, homosexuals can often face harassment and abuse.

Despite the threats however, some LGBT communities remain defiant. Lebanon this year held its first Pride festival, in spite of warnings from Islamist groupsBeirut Pride included film screenings, lectures and a party at one of the Middle East's biggest nightclubs.

A Pride march in Turkey's Istanbul also went ahead last month, despite it being banned by authorities over fears of civil unrest.

Where homosexual acts can be punished by death:
Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan

Where homosexual acts are illegal:
Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, South Sudan, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Gaza Strip (males only)

Where homosexual acts are legal:
Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Bahrain (adults aged over 21 only), Lebanon, West Bank

Same sex marriage is not legal anywhere in the Middle East. 

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