LGBT rights in Jordan

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LGBT rights in Jordan
StatusLegal since 1952 (no law against LGBT)
Gender identityMedical Responsibility Law is ambiguous about who can undergo sex reassignment surgery
Discrimination protectionsNone
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex couples

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Jordan face legal challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBT persons. However, Jordan remains one of few Arab countries where homosexual conduct is not criminalized.

Same-sex sexual activity was illegal in Jordan under the British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance (No. 74 of 1936) until 1951 when Jordan drafted its own penal code which did not criminalise homosexuality.[1] Homosexual conduct remains legal in Jordan. But LGBT people displaying public affection can be prosecuted for "disrupting public morality" and most LGBT people face social discrimination not experienced by non-LGBT residents.[2]

Recent reports suggest that although a large number of LGBT citizens are in the closet and often have to lead double lives, a new wave of younger LGBT people are beginning to come out of the closet and are becoming more visible in the country, working to establish a vibrant LGBT community of filmmakers, journalists, writers, artists and other young professionals.[3]

Criminal laws

The British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance criminalized homosexuality with up to 10 years in prison, until 1951 when Jordan adopted its own penal code that did not criminalize homosexuality.[4] In 1951, a revision of the Jordanian Criminal Code legalized private, adult, non-commercial, and consensual sodomy, with the age of consent set at 16.[5]

The Jordanian penal code no longer permits family members to beat or kill a member of their own family whose "illicit" sexuality is interpreted as bringing "dishonor" to the entire family.[6] As of 2013, the newly revised Penal Code makes honor killings, as a legal justification for murder, illegal.[7]

The Jordanian penal code gives the police discretion when it comes to protecting the public peace, which has sometimes been used against gay people organizing social events.[8]


The first time that the Jordanian government made any public statement regarding LGBT rights was at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in 1995. The international conference sought to address women's rights issues on a global scale, and a proposal was made to have the conference formally address the human rights of gay and bisexual women. The Jordanian delegates to the conference helped to defeat the proposal.[9] More recently, the kingdom's United Nations delegates have also opposed efforts to have the United Nations itself support LGBT rights, although this later proposal was eventually adopted by the United Nations.

The Jordanian government also tolerates a few cafes in Amman that are widely considered to be gay friendly.[10]

Books@Cafe opened in 1997 and remains a popular bookstore and cafe for patrons supportive of "creativity, diversity and tolerance". In the twenty-first century, a Jordanian male model, Khalid, publicly came out and has been supportive of a general interest, gay-themed magazine published in Jordan. "Growing up, it was hard for me to find topics, subjects and publications that I could relate to! In my country, most magazines rejected me and my ideas due to my young age at the time, and I felt like an outcast in my own society!" Khalid told[11]

Transgender rights

In 2014, Jordan's Cassation Court, the highest court in Jordan, allowed a transgender woman to change her legal name and sex to female after she brought forth medical reports from Australia. The head of the Jordanian Department of Civil Status and Passports stated that two to three cases of change of sex reach the Department annually, all based on medical reports and court orders.[12][13]

District courts are responsible for looking at cases of legal sex change in Jordan. The decision is ultimately left to the judge. Normally, the court assigns a medical committee to examine the claimant before making a decision on the case.[14]

Media and press

The Press and Publication Law was amended in 1998 and 2004. The initial document prohibited the depiction or endorsement of "sexual perversion", which may have included homosexuality.[15] The revised edition in 2004 has a few provisions of direct impact on LGBT rights. First, the content ban on "sexual perversion" has been replaced with a general requirement that the press "respect the values of ... the Arab and Islamic nation" and that the press must also avoid encroaching into people's private lives.[16]

In 2007, the first LGBT-themed Jordanian publication My.Kali was launched. A year later, My.Kali[17] started publication online, named after openly gay model Khalid Abdel-Hadi,[18] making major headlines, as it is the first LGBT publication to ever exist in the MENA region, with one of the only faces in the pan-Arab region.[19][20]

"Should society accept homosexuality?"

  No (93%)
  Yes (7%)

An article for Al Jazeera English titled "Pushing for Sexual Equality in Jordan"[22] stated: "Earlier this year, they published the magazine’s 50th issue, and celebrated the magazine’s seven-year anniversary. Kali is on the cover, hugging a sculpture head, his naked torso covered in white dust. The headline reads: “Tell Me Little White Secrets!”" The article was soon removed by the official site, and pasted on blogs and pages instead, due to the huge stir the article caused at the time. "... an AJ foreign journalist wrote a favourable article two years ago on Jordan's only LGBTI magazine My.Kali Magazine but a day later the article was removed from its website and the journalist severely reprimanded." Journalist Dan Littauer writes on his official Facebook page, regarding Qatar's attempts of hushing local medias, and freedom of the press. The magazine regularly features non-LGBT artists on their covers to promote acceptance among other communities and was the first publication to give many underground and regional artists their first covers like Yasmine Hamdan,[23] lead singer of the band Mashrou' Leila, Hamed Sinno,[24] Alaa Wardi,[25] Zahed Sultan[26] and many more. "Jordan is a very traditional country, and we're considered controversial in Jordan for simply breaking the stereotype and stepping out of norm," Khalid told Egypt Independent.[27]

Events were held in the Jordanian capital Amman on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in 2014 and 2015, for educational purposes and for the purpose of raising voice for the community and discussing challenges. Many activists and members of the LGBT community and LGBT allies in Jordan attended the events. in the second event held in 2015 American ambassador in Jordan Alice Wells was one of the speakers. The event held in 2015 was published in almost all local media outlets.

Public opinion

According to a 2019 survey by the Arab Barometer, 93% of Jordanians answered no, 7% answered yes, on question: "Should Society Accept Homosexuality?"

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Arab Barometer, 21% of respondents considered honor killings acceptable, compared to 7% who accepted homosexuality.[28]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes Legal since 1952 (the law against same-sex sexual activity was repealed).
Equal age of consent (16) Yes check.svg
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 marriages 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 Yes check.svg/No With judge approval, almost never done
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Homosexuality declassified as an illness No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSM allowed to donate blood No

See also


  1. ^ "قانون العقوباترقم 16/1960وجميع تعديلاتهوالمنشور في الجريدة الرسمية رقم 1487تاريخ 1/1/1960والمعدل بآخر قانونرقم 8/2011والمنشور في الجريدة الرسمية رقم 5090تاريخ 2/5/2011" (PDF). Retrieved 29 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "Annex: Laws Prohibiting or Used to Punish Same Sex Conduct and Gender Expression in the Middle East and North Africa" (PDF). Retrieved 18 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Movie Reviews | Three Stories From Amman at The Black Iris of Jordan". 9 May 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Schmitt, Arno & Sofer, Jehoeda, 1992, Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies, Binghamton: Harrington Park Press, 1992, ISBN 0-918393-91-4, pages 137-138.
  6. ^ "Middle East 'Honour killings' law blocked". BBC News. 8 September 2003. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Jordan courts sentence 2 for 'honor killings' - World news - Mideast/N. Africa | NBC News". NBC News. 26 June 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  8. ^ Magid, Aaron (12 August 2014). "Little protection for gays in Jordan". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Status of Sexual Minorities" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Jordan LGBT rights". 12 August 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  11. ^ "Innovative LGBTIQ Activist Gives Back to the Community". Sogi News. 27 January 2015. Archived from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  12. ^ "القضاء يوافق على تغيير جنس أردني من ذكر إلى أنثى". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  13. ^[bare URL PDF]
  14. ^ "ABCD" (PDF). Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Article 19 - Middle East & North Africa". 14 June 2006. Archived from the original on 14 June 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  17. ^ "My Kali". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  18. ^ Siddons, Edward (25 May 2016). "the magazine queering the middle east". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  19. ^ Benini, Michele (8 August 2012). "Jordan: a gay magazine gives an hope to Middle East". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Gay Egypy". Gay Middle East. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  21. ^ "The Arab world in seven charts: Are Arabs turning their backs on religion?". BBC. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Hamed Sinno comes of age". 2 December 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  25. ^ "On Youtube star, Ala'a Wardi". 14 January 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  26. ^ "on Zahed Sultan". 31 July 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  27. ^ "Egypt Independent: Middle Eastern LGBT magazine looking risky expansion into Arabic". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  28. ^ "Are Arabs turning their backs on religion?". 24 June 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2020.