LGBT rights in Libya

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StatusDe facto: illegal: Islamic Sharia Law is applied
De jure: Not specifically outlawed
PenaltyUp to 4 years in jail or death[1][2]
Gender identityNo
Discrimination protectionsNo
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex unions

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Libya face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Since the fall of Gaddafi regime in 2011, the status regarding homosexuality in Libya remains unchanged.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Criminal laws[edit]

The country's criminal code prohibits all sexual activity outside of a lawful marriage. Under Article 410 of the Libyan Penal Code, Private homosexual acts between consenting adults are illegal.[3]

In the 1990s, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi began to enact "purification" laws designed to enforce a harsh view of Islamic law on the population. Libyan courts were given the power to use amputation, flogging and other punishments against persons found to be violating traditional Islamic morality.[4]

In 2010, the Gay Middle East blog, reported that two adult men had been charged with "indecent acts", which meant cross-dressing and homosexual conduct.[5]

Female homosexuality would also appear to be illegal, as is making any sort of public acknowledgment that a person is gay. In 2010 a French asylum case involved a Libyan girl who sought asylum after being jailed, raped and then returned to her family for a forced marriage after she made a public statement online that she was gay.[6] Vigilante executions, in lieu of the penal code, are more commonplace in ISIS-controlled territories.[1][2]

The criminal code is still technically in operation, although much of Libya is run by competing militias who may choose to execute LGBT people. ISIS in Libya has publicly executed men for homosexuality.[7]

Gaddafi Government[edit]

The Gaddafi government did not permit the public advocacy of LGBT rights. When discussed, it was always in a negative manner, in keeping with traditional Islamic morality.

In 2003, Gaddafi stated that he believed that it was "impossible" to contract AIDSHIV through unprotected, heterosexual vaginal sex.[8]

Transititional Government[edit]

The Transitional post-Gaddafi government continues to oppose LGBT rights. In February 2012 a Libyan delegate sparked outrage after telling a United Nations human rights panel that gay people threaten the future of the human race.[9]


The Transitional government has limited authority and much of Libya is run by competing militias, such as ISIS. Portions of Libya under the control of ISIS have publicly executed men for homosexuality.

Interim Constitution[edit]

The Transitional Constitution stipulates that Islam is the official religion and a source of law.[10]

The Transitional Constitution also pledges to respect the people's right to have a private life.[10]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Punishment of 4 years or vigilante execution[1][2]
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Libyan 'Gay' Men Face Torture, Death By Militia: Report (GRAPHIC)". 26 November 2012 – via Huff Post.
  2. ^ a b c "The situation of homosexuals in Libya is getting worse".
  3. ^ "Libyan Penal Code of 1953, Amended 1956 (selected provisions related to women) – 4: Title III – Offences Against Freedom, Honour and Morals". Corpus of Laws. Women's Learning Partnership. 5 October 2013. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  4. ^ Stokke, Hugo; Suhrke, Astri; Tostensen, Arne; Haanæs, Øystein Rygg (1997). Human Rights in Developing Countries: Yearbook 1997 (via Google Books). The Hague: Kluwer International. ISBN 978-90-411-0537-0.
  5. ^ Littauer, Dan (25 December 2010). "Libya: Two Men Arrested for 'Indecent Acts'. (via Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  6. ^ Staff (25 October 2010). "Libya: Lesbian To Request Asylum In France". Ansa Mediterranean (via Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  7. ^ "The situation of homosexuals in Libya is getting worse". D+C. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  8. ^ Young, Craig (8 March 2011). "Being Gay under Gaddafi" Archived 2 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  9. ^ "Outrage as Libya tells United Nations: 'Gays threaten the future of the human race'".
  10. ^ a b