In a landmark case, a judge in Lebanon has brought the country a step closer to decriminalising homosexuality.
Currently - as stated under Article 534 - sex acts “contrary to nature” are punishable by up to one year in prison, with gay and bisexual men being the most vulnerable to being charged.
Judge Rabih Maalouf declared that, “Homosexuality is a personal choice, and not a punishable offence”, in a ruling that directly contradicted current laws.
Judge Maalouf cited Article 183 that states, “An act undertaken in exercise of a right without abuse shall not be regarded as an offense."
So although homosexuality is still technically illegal in Lebanon, the ruling could set a precedent for future trials and help pave the way to LGBT+ equality.
A report published in 2015 found that nearly 65% of those surveyed felt that LGBT+ people should not be accepted into the community.
The study—entitled As Long As They Stay Away—shows that over 80% of people in the target group believed homosexuals were a threat to the traditional family.
A rare protest took place in Beirut last year, when 50 people gathered outside the Hbeish gendarmerie to demand anti-LGBT laws be repealed.
Gay rights group Helem has called Judge Maalouf’s ruling a “triumph” for those defending LGBT+ individuals in Lebanese courts.