Sitting at the crossroads

Sexual minorities in the Middle East

Authored by: Merouan Mekouar , Jean Zaganiaris

Routledge Handbook of Minorities in the Middle East

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138649040
eBook ISBN: 9781315626031
Adobe ISBN:


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Characterized by a widely shared Islamic heritage, a strong sense of regional identity, and a deeply entrenched authoritarian political culture, 1 the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are some of the most repressive in relation to the rights of sexual minorities. For instance, out of the ten countries where same-sex relations may be punishable by death, seven are located in the MENA region. 2 However, while the rejection of homosexuality by the populations and governments of the region seems to be homogenous and deeply entrenched, the twenty-two countries of North Africa and the Middle East are also characterized by the presence of diverse legal codes, diverse interpretations, and diverse experiences, which not only reflect differences in colonial and post-colonial trajectories but also the relatively recent development of anti-LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer) sentiment in the region. 3

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