BEIRUT: Lebanon's top military prosecutor has ruled that homosexuality is not a crime, deciding not to prosecute a case of “sodomy."
Four military personnel had been referred to the court to face the accusation, after they had been subject to disciplinary action and dismissed from their posts.
Judge Peter Germanos in the landmark decision Saturday decided not to charge them with or issue arrest warrants for violating Penal Code Article 534, which states that “any sexual act contrary to nature is punishable by imprisonment of one year.”
Germanos told The Daily Star that “sodomy is not punishable by law,” as Article 534 is not explicit in terms of what kind of relationship can be considered “contrary to nature” and does not distinguish between male and female.
He did not provide further details on the case.
A judicial source said that he expected the military would put forward an appeal to take the case to a higher court.
Those charged with homosexuality in Lebanon have largely been accused of breaking the law based on Article 534.
While judges in civilian courts have decided not to punish people for homosexuality under Article 534, this is the first time such a ruling has been issued within the military judiciary, the source said.
In July 2018, the Penal Appeal Court in Mount Lebanon upheld a decision by a Metn judge to prevent the prosecution of nine people charged with violating Article 534, after an appeal had been filed against the initial ruling.
This article was amended on Saturday, March 30 2019
A previous version of this article mistakenly said that the Military Tribunal had issued the decision, when it in fact had been the top military prosecutor. The Daily Star regrets this error.