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Lebanon employs both de facto and explicit criminalization methods to penalize transgender expression, particularly targeting transgender women, as evidenced by various provisions in the Lebanese Penal Code. Recent developments indicate a rise in prejudice and violence against transgender and queer individuals in Beirut. This includes attacks by state-affiliated militia groups on spaces that cater to queer communities, which occurred in response to the introduction of a bill advocating for the decriminalization of homosexuality in parliament.

Lebanon has made gradual progress in terms of legal gender recognition, particularly since 2015 when a judge emphasized the significance of transitioning while approving a plaintiff’s request to change their gender markers on official identification documents. Nonetheless, obstacles to accessing these changes persist. Moreover, the availability of gender-affirming healthcare in Lebanon remains unprohibited and comparatively more accessible than in other Middle Eastern countries. However, the dominance of privatized healthcare has limited options for medical transitioning due to the lack of affordable alternatives.


Explicit: Gender non-conforming expression is criminalized both explicitly and through the usage of vague morality laws. Article 521 of the Lebanese Penal Code specifically targets transgender women but can be used to punish gender nonconformity when used in combination with other morality laws. 

Any man who wears the uniform of a woman or has entered a place belonging to women or is prohibited from entering it at the time of the act to non-women shall be liable to a term of up to six months of imprisonment.

The banishment from the country and the freedom to be monitored upon judgement of a misdemeanor provided for in this revelation, and the disclosure of location.

Defying public morals by one of the means mentioned in article 209, paragraph 1, is punishable by one month to one year of imprisonment.

Defying public morals by one of the means mentioned in article 209, paragraphs 2 and 3, is punishable by one month to one year of imprisonment and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 liras.

The same penalties shall be imposed on anyone who makes, exports, supplies or acquires writings, drawings, manual or solar photographs, sign films or other disturbing objects for the purpose of trading, distributing, advertising or informing of the manner in which they are obtained.

Any intercourse contrary to nature shall be punishable by up to one year’s imprisonment.

Legal Gender Recognition:

While legal gender recognition is a possibility in Lebanon, the absence of a defined procedure for doing so has resulted in the decision-making being left to the discretion of individual judges. The lack of a standardized process creates various obstacles that impede access to legal gender recognition. These obstacles include excessively long waiting times for responses from courts and their administrations, as well as the reliance on the probability of having a more tolerant judge presiding over transgender cases.

Transgender individuals who seek to change their legal name may do so through amending legal documents such as birth certificates before the Personal Status courts. 

“An entry listed in the registry can only be corrected by virtue of a ruling from a competent court, issued in the presence of the civil registry officer or their representative, except in the case of entries subject to change such as profession, confession, religion, place of residence and the like, such entries being corrected by civil registry offices without the need for a court ruling.”

Despite Article 21 of Ordinance 8837 of 1932 not explicitly mentioning the ability to change a name or gender marker, legal precedent shows that members of the judiciary have interpreted it as such. This legal procedure necessitates that a plaintiff file a lawsuit against the state for the “error” in assigning their sex, which is deemed to be a clerical mistake, and subsequently request the rectification of their documents. In order to successfully modify a gender marker on identifying documents, the court mandates that the plaintiff’s legal representation demonstrate that the sex listed for the plaintiff in the census registry is incongruent with the sex the plaintiff identifies with.

Although the terminology of “correcting” a gender marker may carry certain implications, the process has recently extended beyond individuals who are intersex or have a medical need for transitioning. It can now also accommodate individuals seeking to align their gender identity with specific circumstances.

Gender Affirming Healthcare:

There are no laws prohibiting access to gender-affirming healthcare, though many have conflated a legal text on medical ethics about sex change surgeries as evidence of its explicit criminalization.  

(30/9) No medical procedures shall be conducted that would result in the patient’s mutilation, except in cases of emergency and extreme necessity with the patient’s consent, or if the patient is unable to provide consent. Only a surgeon is authorized to determine the necessity of emergency treatment and perform an operation that would result in distortion of the patient’s consent requirement, provided that the surgeon is aware of the consent from the patient’s relatives, if available..

(30/11): Any medical or surgical treatment resulting in a sex change and affecting the patient’s future is classified as mutilation. 

A comprehensive analysis of the aforementioned texts reveals that gender-affirming healthcare is not prohibited by law in Lebanon. Although Article 30(5) deems sex changes as unethical medical practices, Article 30(4) clarifies that gender-affirming surgeries are exempt from being labeled as “mutilation” when patient and/or family consent is obtained. Consequently, any treatment pursued by transgender individuals is deemed lawful as long as their consent is granted.

However, Lebanon lacks government programs that offer gender-affirming healthcare services to transgender individuals. The only available option is to seek such healthcare through private institutions, which can be both costly and exacerbate discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, and other facets of healthcare as people transition. Furthermore, the prevailing economic crisis in Lebanon has compelled many transgender individuals to defer seeking medical attention until it becomes absolutely necessary, often resulting in medical complications. In spite of these challenges, Lebanon stands out for its relatively widespread, though limited accessibility to gender-affirming healthcare.

Lebanon’s sectarian nature results in multiple Muslim religious sources from different sects delivering various fatwas with different opinions on transgender expression. However, religion is not a source of legislation in Lebanon and no religion can influence the legal status of gender identity in Lebanon.