Three men accused of being homosexual are reported to have been executed by the Islamic State (ISIS). The men were reportedly shot in the head at the town’s main Ateeq Mosque following afternoon (Asr) prayers. Libya is in a chaotic condition with militant groups fighting each other for control, including ISIS  Traditional Islam condemns homosexuality and cross-dressing as they do all expressions of sexuality outside of a traditional marriage. There is no effective national government in Libya; anarchy is the rule of law. The country is no place for LGBT people but some live there, their home. Surviving means living in tight closets.


Compiled by Richard Ammon
February 2012
Updated November 2016


Country Description

Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa by area, and the 17th largest in the world. The largest city, Tripoli, is home to 1.7 million of Libya’s 6.4 million people. It has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country. From 1969 to 2011 the country was ruled by Muammar Gaddafi who shot his way to power to depose the king. He announced the suspension of all existing laws and the implementation of Sharia.

He said that the country would be purged of the “politically sick”, including innocent LGBT citizens. Gaddafi executed dissidents publicly and the executions were often rebroadcast on state television channels. Gaddafi employed his network of diplomats and recruits to assassinate dozens of critical refugees around the world. Amnesty International listed at least 25 assassinations between 1980 and 1987.

Under his rule of ‘unlimited power’ Libya suffered economic, domestic and political disaster. In 2011 the ‘Arab Spring’ finally turned to Gaddafi. Widespread revolts erupted and on 27 June 2011, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi for his widespread and systematic attacks against civilians and demonstrators and dissidents during the revolution. He was finally gunned down in October 2011. Since then Libya has been staggering to regain civil order and economic recovery. But not a lot has changed for LGBT people in the country since.

A Dangerous Place to be Gay

The country’s criminal code prohibits all sexual activity outside of a lawful marriage. Private homosexual acts between consenting adults are punishable with up to five years’ imprisonment. In the 1990s, Libyan autocratic ruler Muammar Gaddafi began to enact “purification” laws designed to enforce a harsh view of Islamic law on the population. Libyan courts were given the power to use amputation, flogging and other cruel punishments against persons found to be violating traditional Islamic morality.

In 2010 the Gay Middle East blog reported that two adult men had been charged with “indecent acts”, which meant cross-dressing and homosexual conduct. Female homosexuality would also appear to be illegal, as is making any sort of public acknowledgment that a person is gay. In 2010 a French asylum case involved a Libyan girl who sought asylum after being jailed, raped and then returned to her family for a forced marriage after she made a public statement online that she was gay.

The government does not permit the public advocacy of LGBT rights and homosexuality and cross-dressing are considered highly taboo within the society. When they are discussed, it is always in a negative manner, in keeping with traditional Islamic morality.


Before and After the Fall of Gaddafi

Here is a two part story about gay life during and after Gaddafi’s fall
written by Gay Middle East writer and editor Dan Littauer and posted on the LGBT news site

Part 1:
” ‘There are absolutely no groups, organisations or even individuals in Libya that speak publicly about gay rights, the subject itself is a social and religious taboo,’ Khaleed says. ‘But this doesn’t mean that LGBT people do not exist, on the contrary some people are known and recognised as gay within their communities…”

Part 2:
“Following the removal of Colonel Gaddafi’s dictatorship, Khaleed, like many Libyans, is full of hope and concern for their future. Their country, society and cultures are now going to start to forge a new identity which was so forcefully bound up with the Gaddafi family the ruled Libya with an iron fist for over 40 years…”