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Last updated: June 2022

This profile refers to persons who are perceived as not conforming to social norms because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity, including the treatment of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or trans-gender, intersex and queer individuals. However, it should be noted that reporting on the situation of LGBTIQ persons was scarce due to the subject being taboo in Somalia and the reporting was mostly based on a few individual cases being picked up by the media [Targeting, 8]. Furthermore, specific information on some of the LGBTIQ communities was not available in the COI reports used for the purpose of this guidance.

COI summary

[Targeting, 8]

There is not one overall legal framework impacting on the situation of LGBTIQ individuals, as Somalia is characterized by legal pluralism. The Somali Penal Code states that homosexuality is illegal, however, there is no information with regard to the actual application of the law. Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is not prohibited and there are no hate crime laws which protect LGBTIQ individuals from violence, intimidation and/or discrimination. Under Sharia, the term referring to unlawful sexual intercourse is called zina. Islamic law regards only heterosexual relations sanctioned through marriage as lawful. Therefore, homosexual relations are considered illegal by default. Sharia explicitly refers to liwat (usually considered the equivalent of ‘sodomy’) and sihaq (sometimes translated as ‘lesbianism’). Islamic courts, present throughout Somalia, can impose sentences for same-sex relationships which go from flogging to the death penalty. Al-Shabaab courts have also issued death sentences for homosexuals in the recent past (2017 and 2018).

LGBTIQ individuals often resort to hiding their sexual orientation or gender identity out of fear of being disowned or excluded from their family. Furthermore, there were no known LGBTIQ organisations and associations in Somalia, as the pervasive social stigma against same-sex relationships remains.

Risk analysis 

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. death penalty by Sharia-implementing courts, imprisonment, violence).

For individuals under this profile, well-founded fear of persecution would in general be substantiated.

It has to be noted that an applicant cannot be expected to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity to avoid persecution.[11]

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that the persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of membership of a particular social group, based on a shared characteristic that is so fundamental to the identity of the applicant, that he or she should not be forced to renounce it; and based on their distinct identity in Somalia, because they are perceived as being different by the surrounding society.[12]




[11] CJEU, Minister voor Immigratie en Asiel v X and Y and Z v Minister voor Immigratie en Asiel, joined cases C-199/12 to C-201/12, Judgment of 7 November 2013 (X, Y and Z), paras. 70-76.

[12] X, Y and Z, paras. 45-49.