Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 11:51 GMT

Yemen: Situation for homosexuals in Yemen, including societal attitudes

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 16 July 2004
Citation / Document Symbol YEM42812.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Yemen: Situation for homosexuals in Yemen, including societal attitudes, 16 July 2004, YEM42812.E, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Homosexuality is illegal in Yemen, one of the few countries in the world that imposes a potential maximum penalty of death on homosexuals (Reuters 5 July 2004; Wikipedia 1 July 2004; Sodomy Laws 22 Nov. 2003; ILGA 31 July 2000; Sociolegal Control 1997; Encyclopedia n.d.; Planet Out n.d.).

Information on whether such sentences have been carried out was not found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, only three Muslim nations (Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan) are known to have carried out the death penalty for engaging in homosexual acts in recent years (1990-2000) (ILGA 31 July 2000; Encyclopedia n.d.).

Information was found that indicated that Yemen has carried out death penalty sentences in recent years (1999-2003), but details about the specific crimes were not always available (AI 2004; Malay Mail 9 Aug. 1999).

Aljazeera Online reported in May 2004 that three journalists had been punished by a Yemeni court for writing an article about homosexuality that included interviews with men jailed for homosexuality (15 May 2004). The court ruled that the journalists had "violated Yemeni morals and customs" (Aljazeera Online 15 May 2004).

Information on society's attitudes in Yemen towards homosexuals was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. There were articles suggesting that homosexuality is not tolerated in Muslim societies (Al-Fatiha Foundation n.d.; Encyclopedia n.d.). The Website for the Al-Fatiha Foundation, a Washington, DC-based organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Muslims (n.d.), states that

[t]here is a general consensus amongst the scholars of Islam (both past and present) that homosexuality is a deviation of man's true (heterosexual) nature. Thus the act of homosexuality is sinful and perverted and is viewed with contempt in most Muslim societies and Islamic countries (n.d).

In addition, an article that expressed disapproval of homosexuality was found in an English-language newspaper available in Yemen (Yemen Times 23 June 2004).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Al-Fatiha Foundation. n.d. "Homosexuality and Same-Sex Acts in Islam." [Accessed 6 July 2004]

Aljazeera Online. 18 May 2004. "Journalists Convicted for Gay Report." [Accessed 6 July 2004]

Amnesty International (AI). 2004. "Yemen." [Accessed 7 July 2004]

Encyclopedia. n.d. "Islamic Views of Homosexuality." [Accessed 6 July 2004]

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). 31 July 2000. "World Legal Survey: The Death Penalty for Homosexual Acts." [Accessed 7 July 2004]

The Malay Mail [Kuala Lumpur] 9 August 1999. "Child Rapists Whipped and Executed." (World Corporal Punishment Research) [Accessed 6 July 2004]

Planet Out. n.d. Marke Bieschke. "Global Pride 2004: State of the Gay World." [Accessed 7 July 2004]

Reuters. 5 July 2004. Kate Kelland. "Gay Persecution Seen Rising Around the World." [Accessed 6 July 2004]

Sociolegal Control of Homosexuality: A Multi-Nation Comparison. 1997. Edited by Donald J. West and Richard Green. New York: Plenum Press

Sodomoy Laws. 22 November 2003. "HRC Lauds Congressional Resolution Condemning International Human Rights Violations Against GLBT People." [accessed 6 July 2004]

Wikipedia. 1 July 2004. "Sodomy Law." [Accessed 7 July 2004]

Yemen Times. 23 June 2004. Vol. 13, Issue 749. Paul Kokoski. "The Fallacy of Same-Sex Unions." [Accessed 16 July 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Ahbab News, Al Bawaba, Alter Net forums, Amnesty International, Arabic, Eastgarden, Gay and Lesbian Arabic Society (GLAS), Gay, Gay Middle, Independent Gay Forum, International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), Islam Republic, Queer Jihad, SABA, Word IQ, Yemen Daily, Yemen Observer.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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