Saturday, February 1, 2020

Attempted UCI in Lebanon

An interesting development in Lebanon, as a military prosecutor refused to charge an army officer with “homosexual activity” despite pressure to do so from the former defense minister, Bou Saab. It appears that at the time of the request, Bou Saab was serving as the defense minister.

The underlying article is intriguing for how individuals in Lebanon circumvent bans on dating apps, the colonial history of the anti-homosexual law, and the growing acceptance to same-sex relationships in Lebanese civil society, with the military trailing those efforts. The article also calls to mind U.S. policy with homosexual activity in the military and unlawful command influence (UCI).

The last decade has seen the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the expansion of federal marriage entitlements to same sex couples, and two reversals of whether transgender people still can serve openly, a big change to the Army I joined in 2009, when they were still teaching at the JAG School about separating openly gay Soldiers.  

The U.S. has also attempted to ban senior leaders from dictating prosecutorial decisions to subordinates through Article 37 of the UCMJ. But as a recent high profile case has shown, deciding when senior civilian leaders have crossed the line and tainted prosecutorial decisions sometimes leads to strong disagreements and multiple years of on-going litigation, as the boundaries of what constitutes UCI are sometimes less than crystal clear. 

But anyway, a thought-provoking case out of Lebanon to share here.

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