African country Gabon decriminalises homosexuality


gabon president ali bongo ondimba homosexuality decriminalisation senate lgbtiq rights
Photo: Mark Mackenzie/Flickr

Gabon has voted to decriminalise homosexuality, reversing a ban on gay sex put in place last year in the Central African nation.

Last year the country legislated a ban on “sexual relations between people of the same sex.” Punishments included six months’ imprisonment and fines of up to five million FCFA ($AU12,440).

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However, Gabon’s lower house voted to scrap it last week. And on Monday, a majority of the country’s Senate voted the same way.

President Ali Bongo Ondimba (pictured) will now ratify the bill. Bongo’s wife, Sylvia Ondimba, voiced her support for decriminalisation on her Twitter account.

“Parliament is restoring a fundamental human right for its citizens: that of loving, freely, without being condemned,” she wrote.

“The republic defends respect for everyone’s privacy and remains one and indivisible beyond feelings. Yes to dignity, no to hate.”

Gabon follows other African states making similar moves

Activists have cheered the decision in the Central African country where homosexuality is still largely taboo.

Veteran UK rights activist Peter Tatchell said it will give hope to LGBTIQ Africans.

“It bucks the trend in many African nations, like Nigeria and Uganda, where the repression of LGBT+ communities has intensified in recent years,” he said.

“Coming on top of Angola’s decriminalisation last year, it will give hope to the many brave LGBT+ campaigners throughout Africa that they can eventually win.”

UK-based Human Dignity Trust also said Gabon joins African states Angola, Seychelles, Mozambique and Botswana in making steps forward.

“[They] have chosen to rid their lawbooks of archaic provisions which enable discrimination, violence and harassment against LGBT people,” legal chief Victoria Vasey said.

According to the Trust, 72 jurisdictions around the world still criminalise adult, consensual, same-sex relations.

However this number has declined dramatically in recent decades, through a mix of legislative reform and court judgments.

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Almost half of all criminalising countries are on the African continent.

Of the 72 countries, 10 countries still have the death penalty for homosexuality.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.