Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people in the Maldives face violence, hate crimes, and discrimination due to a lack of legal protection. Consensual same-sex conduct is illegal, and there are heavy punitive measures for LBTI people.
Section 411 of the Penal Code refers to “unlawful sexual intercourse” and explicitly prohibits same-sex sexual intercourse, and Section 410 sets out punishments for “offences against the family” and bans same-sex marriages and/or civil unions.
In 2011, the Maldives voted against the adoption of Resolution 17/19, the first SOGI resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council, which requested the OHCHR to produce the first report on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In 2016, the Maldives also voted against the adoption of Resolution 32/2 which created the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The rights of transgender and intersex people are not legally recognised nor explicitly protected. The CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Observations to the Maldives in 2015 did not contain any SOGIESC-focused recommendations.
The Committee provided other recommendations that may be applied to LBTI people:
(a) to expedite the adoption of the maternal and child health bill and improve SRHR services for all women;
(b) to adopt specific legislation to criminalise marital rape, and establish a system to support victims of domestic violence with counselling, rehabilitation, shelter, and access to justice;
(c) to strengthen the implementation of the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act, collect information and data on trafficking and victims, and provide them with support to healthcare, exit programmes, and other opportunities.
The last State party report was submitted in 2019 and contained no LBTI specific information. The LOI from November 2019 contains a question how existing policies address the situation of girls, women with disabilities, migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee women, older women and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. The replies of the state party to this LOI contains no response to this question.
During the 80th Session, however, the Committee provided two rights-affirming recommendations. Firstly, it expressed its concern at the lack of policies in the State Party to combat the discrimination faced by disadvantaged groups of women due to the intersection with other factors leading to social exclusion, such as ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, migrant status or membership in the lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex community. (under the section Disadvantaged groups of women).
Secondly, the Committee also recommended that the state party (a) adopt all necessary measures, including temporary special measures, to combat the intersectional discrimination that disadvantaged groups of women encounter, such as migrant women, women with disabilities, lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex persons, and women professing religions other than Islam, in relation to all aspects covered by the Convention; (b) Modify its legislation and policies in order to eliminate the forced sterilization of persons in the State Party and ensure the full and informed consent of all persons to all medical procedures, and (c) Decriminalize consensual relations between women.