“No Bills Against Islamic Law Before Parliament” – Speaker Adan Madobe

01.12.2022: Mogadishu, Somalia

Following heated debates regarding the controversial Sexual Offences Bill (SOB) led by Deputy Speaker Sacdiya Yaasin, Speaker of the House of the People, Sheikh Adan Madobe has unequivocally stated that no bills that are in any shape or form opposed to Islamic law will be brought before the Federal Parliament.

The Speaker of Somalia’s Lower House of Parliament, Sheikh Adan Madobe, said that he would not approve any law against the Islamic religion, days after his deputy Sadiya Yasin Samatar vowed to support a revised law on sexual abuse.

What Was Said?

Videos surfaced online showcasing the Deputy Speaker of the Lower House, Sacdiya Yaasiin insisting that Parliament would vote and approve on the controversial Sexual Offences Bill that was previously rejected by the 10th Parliament of Somalia in 2020.

She argued that the SOB would protect women’s rights and was important to “finding solutions” as well as controlling violence against women including rape, which she pointed out is not being tackled at the moment.

Nevertheless, her defence of the controversial bill as well as some of her remarks have created a political whirlwind in Somalia as of late.

“If you do not protect me with Qur’anic verses, why do you prevent me from seeking closer relations with non-believers?”

Deputy Speaker of House of the People, Marwo Sacdiya Yaasin Salaad

The above statement resulted in a major backlash from large sections of the Somali community, with the Deputy Speaker receiving death threats.

Conversely, she went so far as to attempt to threaten individuals that opposed her proposals by “contacting their respective embassies” if they are of another nationality – an act which legally and politically makes no sense.

In response to the whirlwind, the Minister for Women & Human Rights Khadijo Maxamed Diiriye denied that she had put forth any bill concerning these issues before Parliament.

Backtrack, Denial & Death Threats

Following major backlash for her remarks, the Deputy Speaker officially denied ever supporting the SOB in its current form, rather advocating for “revisions” to the bill so that it aligns with Islamic laws and teachings.

Instead, she conveyed that she was only advocating for women’s rights, especially women that continue to face abuse or have suffered abused and that videos surfacing on the internet were “misrepresented” and edited to portray a narrative which was not the case at all.

In her defence, Deputy Speaker Yaasiin argued that she was not part of any group of MPs that advocated for the implementation of the bill and that she was actually one of the MPs that voted against the passage of the Bill in 2020.

Irrespective, the debate regarding the controversial Bill had become heated this week after the provocative speech made by the Deputy Speaker which resulted in Somali Islamic Scholars reacting to some of the edgy comments made.

As a result of recent events, Yaasiin has said she is currently facing death threats and fears for her safety.

Why was the Bill initially Rejected?

The draft resolution on the Sexual Offences Bill was rejected by the previous Parliament in 2020, with the Speaker and Deputy Speakers stating that the bill violated the culture and religion of Islam.

Parliamentarians also added on the fact that the ambiguity of some articles and language could normalise same-sex marriage – an act that is considered a sin in Islam and is consequently outlawed in Somalia, a Muslim nation.

Controversy stems from Article 4 of the Sexual Offences Bill which refers to anal intercourse and outlaws any form “if it is not consensual”. In other words, MPs have highlighted that the law is implying that anal intercourse is permissible legally if it is consensual. This has resulted in a major backlash from the Somali community and religious scholars as it goes against the fundamentals of Islamic laws and customs as well as Somali cultural customs and norms.

Many Somalis perceive this Bill which is being pushed by the United Nations and Western nations as an attempt to enforce Western ideals into Somalia and eventually make the nation a gateway for from LGBTQ+ rights across Africa. Indeed, the West has consistently condemned African nations for rejecting to incorporate LGBTQ+ rights into Human Rights law.

Just recently, newly elected Kenyan President, William Rutto defend his government’s policy on Homosexuality during an interview with CNN’s Christine Amanpour in which he outlined that Kenya “respects what everybody believes” but that Kenya also had its own “beliefs” and Kenyans “expect to be respected”.

Issues of Adultery & Consent

The Bill also created controversy on the age of consent and definition of rape regarding this point.

Article 27 of the Sexual Offences Bill states that the “intentional marriage of minors” would be considered Child Marriage and would result in imprisonment of minimum 10 years and maximum 15 years. The Bill defined a child as anybody below the age of 18.

Conversely, some Somali scholars have argued that Islamically, a woman is allowed to marry from the age of 15 due to her being of puberty age.

During a meeting of some clerics at Sheikh Ali Suufi Masjid, all jointly highlighted that the law would oppose Islamic teachings because the law failed to distinguish between a legal marriage and adultery as it failed to prohibit sexual contact before marriage but rather advocated that all forms of coitus is permissible as long as it is consensual.

Can the Bill be reformed?

The issue regarding this bill is that it was not written by Somalis for Somalis but rather was proposed from abroad. Indeed, Somalis can accept that there are issues regarding violence against women including rape or murder. Somalis can also accept that there need to be strong laws to protect women in society as well as the human rights of all citizens of Somalia. Nevertheless, Somalia is a Muslim nation that adheres to Islamic teaching and laws meaning that any form of legislation proposed before Parliament must not go against the Islamic faith in any shape or form.

For instance, the act of anal intercourse is forbidden in Islam and can never be consensual as a result. Additionally, the concept of consensual coitus must also be addressed as Islam and Somali culture does not permit sexual relations between two people prior to marriage.

Ultimately, this Bill has been tainted and is foreign. A new Bill which addresses the issues aforementioned and adheres to Somali and Islamic laws can be brought before Parliament. The Bill could be created via consultation with Somali women and other interested parties to find a solution to lasting issues in Somali society.


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