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On the jesuit-maronite provenance of lebanon's criminalization of homosexuality

Abstract

Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code, effectively, criminalizes homosexual practices. Most commentators have claimed that its existence in modern Lebanon is a "colonial relic,"specifically of the French Mandate, 1920-1946. But since 1791, French penal codes have not criminalized same-sex relations. I argue, instead, that Article 534 was the product of native religious, legal, and moral thinking among the Maronites, reinforced by the Thomistic and post-Tridentine moral theology taught in Lebanon by the Jesuit missions. Thomistic and post-Tridentine moral theology classified same-sex relations as worthy of condemnation as "unnatural acts"-the same language used in Article 534. Therefore, as a product of Lebanese political and religious sectarianism, Article 534 is a specific case of a congenial collaboration of Jesuit moral theology and a conservative Maronite ethical and legal koine.

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