LGBT rights in Somalia

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Somali Civil War (2009-present).svg
StatusIllegal: Islamic Sharia Law is applied
(Federal Republic of Somalia)
Up to death [1]

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Somalia face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents.

LGBT rights[edit]

Ottoman Empire[edit]

In 1858, the Ottoman Empire legalized same-sex sexual intercourse.[2]

Italian East Africa[edit]

In 1940, Italy conquered British Somaliland and annexed it into the Italian East Africa. Since same-sex sexual activity was legal in Italy since 1890, it became legal in British Somaliland. In 1941, the British reconquered British Somaliland and re-instated their sodomy laws.[2]

British Somaliland[edit]

Prior to independence from the British, the Indian Penal Code of 1860 was applied in British Somaliland.[3]

Somali Republic[edit]

In 1964, a new penal code came into force in the Somali Republic. The code states that "Whoever has carnal intercourse with a person of the same sex shall be punished, where the act does not constitute a more serious crime, with imprisonment from three months to three years. Where the act committed is an act of lust different from carnal intercourse, the punishment imposed shall be reduced by one-third."[3]

Somali Democratic Republic[edit]

Under Article 409 of the Somali Penal Code introduced in 1973, sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex is punishable by imprisonment from three months to three years. An "act of lust" other than sexual intercourse is punishable by a prison term of two months to two years. Under Article 410 of the Somali Penal Code, an additional security measure may accompany sentences for homosexual acts, usually coming in the form of police surveillance to prevent "re-offending".[2][4] LGBT executions are tolerated.[1]

Federal Government of Somalia[edit]

HIV/AIDS prevention[edit]

Family planning services are hard to access, as is fact-based information on human sexuality. Humanitarian workers have stated that Islamic social mores often make it difficult to publicly talk about how the virus can be spread.[5] Since 1999, much of the AIDS/HIV education and care has come from international organizations such as the United Nations.[5]

Despite this, Somalia has one of the lowest HIV infection rates on the continent. This is attributed to the Muslim nature of Somali society and adherence of Somalis to Islamic morals.[6] While the estimated HIV prevalence rate in Somalia in 1987 (the first case report year) was 1% of adults,[6] a more recent estimate from 2007 now places it at only 0.5% of the nation's adult population.[7]

LGBT organizations[edit]

As of 2004, one group reportedly existed for LGBT people in Somalia.[8]

Civil war[edit]

In territories controlled by Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen in Somalia, the terrorist organization enacts a strict interpretation of shariah which explicitly outlaws homosexuality. The punishment for those found gulity is at a judge’s discretion and may be punished by death.[9]

HIV prevalence by region[edit]

The HIV prevalence in 2004 - sentinel sites of the three regional zones[10]
Region/Zone and Sentinel Site Number Tested Number Positive Percentage Positive
Hargeisa 499 8 1.6
Berbera 350 8 2.29
Borama 362 4 1.10
Burco 350 2 0.57
Mean - Somaliland 1561 362 1.41
Bosaso 324 3 0.93
Garowe 284 2 1.70
Mean - Puntland 897 9 1.00
Galkayo 289 4 1.38
South Central
Mogadishu 1232 11 0.89
Merca 350 0 0.0
Jowhar 351 1 0.28
Hudur 351 1 0.29
Mean - South Central 2165 13 0.60
Mean - Overall 4732 44 0.93

Living conditions[edit]

The U.S. Department of State's 2010 Human Rights Report found that “sexual orientation was considered a taboo topic, and there was no public discussion of this issue in any region of the country," and that "there were no reports of societal violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation."[11]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Execution)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment 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 marriage 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 Noor Ali. "Gay Somali refugees face death threats".
  3. ^ a b LEGISLATIVE DECREE NO. 5 OF 16 December 1962
  4. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld – Somalia Country Assessment" (PDF). Refworld.
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b Velayati, Ali-Akbar; Bakayev, Valeri; et al. (October 2007). "Religious and Cultural Traits in HIV/AIDS Epidemics in Sub-Saharan Africa". Archives of Iranian Medicine. 10 (4): 486–497. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 April 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  7. ^ "Somalia". World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  8. ^ "Death Hangs Over Somali Queers". May 3, 2004. Archived from the original on 11 August 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  9. ^ Report: Somalia too risky for LGBT people
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]