LGBTQ+ Rights in Yemen By Charley Bell

LGBTQ+ citizens have fought for their rights for many years, and have made major progress in the United States. However, some countries still ban gays and transgenders overall, including Yemen. Clearly, LGBTQ+ citizens deserve equal rights. In Yemen, the punishments for being gay are extremely unjust. “According to the 1994 penal code, married men can be sentenced to death by stoning for homosexual intercourse...Women face up to seven years in prison.” (Bearak and Cameron, Countries Where Homosexuality is Punishable by Death). This is significant because gay marriage is legal in many countries, including America, but even being in a same-sex relationship is illegal in Yemen. Additionally, Yemenis do not have a legal right to change their gender (Freedom House, Freedom in the World). People continuously discriminated against these citizens in Yemen as well. “In a country where homosexual activity is illegal, many in Yemen’s revolutionary circles still do not equate freedom with sexual liberation.” (One of Yemen's First Openly Gay Men). Clearly, homosexuals are not being treated fairly in Yemen, despite their equal treatment in other countries. Everyone deserves the right to marry whoever they want, even if it is someone of the same gender. This right is denied altogether in Yemen, while these people are accepted in many other countries. Although Yemen is a smaller country with a low population compared to many others, it is still important that people enforce rights that they may take for granted. In conclusion, LGBTQ+ citizens in Yemen deserve equal rights.

Current LGBTQ+ rights in Yemen are similar to African Americans’ rights during the Civil Rights Movement. First of all, both of these groups of citizens were punished for being who they were. “Homosexuality: 100 lashes, 1 year in prison (unmarried men), death by stoning (married men),” (LGBT Rights HRW). Additionally, a terrorist organization called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) gave extreme punishments to African Americans because they did not think they deserved to be free. “In Texas, a man was kidnapped, beaten, and left hanging upside-down from a tree with “KKK” carved into his stomach.” (The Civil Rights Movement). Clearly, both LGBTQ+ Yemenis and African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement both faced major punishments for being who they were. No one can control whether or not they were born as a certain race or sexuality, so these punishments they faced were extremely unfair.
Another similarity between these two groups is that they both were not allowed to serve in the military. LGBTQ+ Yemenis were not allowed to openly serve in the military (Freedom House, Freedom in the World). Additionally, African Americans were not allowed to serve until the mid-1900’s (African Americans in the U.S. Army). The ability to serve for one’s country is right that every citizen deserves, except neither of these two groups were given these rights. Both groups were denied the rights that other citizens were receiving. In conclusion, LGBTQ+ citizens in Yemen and African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement were very similar in many ways.

LGBTQ+ citizens in Yemen and African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement were also very different. One major difference is that “Homosexuality is illegal in Yemen” (Yemen LGBTI Resources), while African Americans were legally free after the signing of the 14th amendment (14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). LGBTQ+ Yemenis are banned by the government, which is likely why they encounter so much discrimination. However, African Americans were free during the Civil Rights Movement, but still faced racism and prejudices.

Most of the backlash that Yemenis receive is from the government because being gay or transgender is illegal. The government of Yemen declared that being a homosexual is illegal and may be punishable by death (Washington Post). However, while homosexuals in Yemen are mainly attacked by the government, African Americans were attacked by white supremacists. These citizens were legally free, so the government did not go after them. Instead, it was mainly the KKK, who killed African Americans illegally (Ku Klux Klan-Facts and Summary). This is a significant difference because both of these groups of citizens were harmed, but one was by the government and the other was white supremacists. Overall, LGBTQ+ citizens in Yemen were very different from African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement.

Unequal rights for homosexual and transgender Yemenis is a serious problem that people need to get involved with. Some people may take advantage of their rights in their country, and not think about others who do not get these same rights. One way to stand up for these beliefs is with peaceful protests. Violence will likely make the situation worse, but a peaceful march may show others why one stance is a better. It can also help to write articles or motivational speeches. It is important that everyone understands why Yemenis should be allowed to like any sexuality or gender they would like.


One of Yemen's First Openly Gay Men." BBC News. BBC, 19 June 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Bearak, Max, and Darla Cameron. "Analysis | Here Are the 10 Countries Where Homosexuality May Be Punished by Death." The Washington Post. WP Company, 16 June 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Haneef, Christina. "Yemen LGBTI Resources." Rights in Exile Programme. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. Staff. "Ku Klux Klan." A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

"Primary Documents in American History." 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Puddington, Arch, Sarah Repucci, Jennifer Dunham, Bret Nelson, and Tyler Roylance. Freedom in the World 2015: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties. New York, NY: Freedom House, 2016. Print.

"Yemen." LGBT Rights HRW. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.


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