Well-known Rwandan gospel singer Albert Nabonibo came out as gay in August. While he still has his day job as an accountant, he worries about his continuing employment because of the backlash.
When Albert revealed his sexuality in an interview with a Christian YouTube channel, it caused shock in the conservative central African nation.
Although Rwanda’s penal code does not proscribe homosexuality, it remains a taboo in the country. Most LGBTIQ people remain closeted.
Albert described the response to his self-outing as mostly ‘horrible’.
However, he told The Associated Press he could no longer live in denial.
“But there is no going back because I have to live my real life.
“It’s so sad to see people you know abusing you.”
He called out the hypocrisy of a society pretending gays did not exist.
“There is a long list of them in your midst and they include pastors or churchgoers.
“This pretense encouraged me to speak out.”
William Ntwali, a local human rights activist, said the lack of legal sanction against homosexuality did not protect people from discrimination.
“If you are gay, members of your community ostracize you.
“People think you are not normal, and they look at it as an abomination.”
However, Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Olivier Nduhungire expressed support for the singer.
“All Rwandans are born and remain equal in rights and freedoms.”
LGBTIQ reform in Africa
Earlier this year in June, Botswana’s High Court overturned laws criminalising consensual same-sex relations.
However, just the month before, Kenya’s High Court ruled against overturning the colonial-era law criminalising homosexual acts between consenting adults.
Albert Nabonibo says he has no regrets.
“Criticism and sadness. What does it matter? What’s important is that I have taken my choice.”
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