FACTBOX - Legal hurdles faced by LGBT+ people in Africa

by Reuters
Tuesday, 27 October 2020 19:42 GMT

A gay couple pose for a photograph at a club in Lagos, Nigeria, October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

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Same-sex relations are legal in only 22 of Africa's 54 countries and are punishable by death in some

By Noor Zainab Hussain

Oct 27 - Same-sex relations are legal in only 22 of Africa's 54 countries and are punishable by death or lengthy prison terms in some nations, according to a global review.

Africa accounts for nearly half of the countries worldwide where homosexuality is outlawed, according to the review, published in March and updated in December last year.

A judge in Nigeria on Tuesday threw out a case against 47 men charged with public displays of affection with members of the same sex, ending what had widely been seen as a test of the country's laws banning homosexual relationships.

Here is the state of play on LGBT+ rights in Africa:

- The maximum penalty is death in four African countries: Mauritania, Nigeria (in states where sharia law is applied), Somalia and South Sudan.

- Life imprisonment is the maximum penalty in Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, while jail terms of up to 14 years are possible in Gambia, Kenya and Malawi.

- The High Court of Kenya last year upheld the law criminalising consensual same-sex sexual activity, adding it is "an effective method to contain the country's HIV epidemic".

- In 2017, Chad criminalised same-sex acts in what the ILGA review called "a worrying example of legal regression in the region".

- Although homosexuality is not a crime in Egypt, discrimination against the LGBT+ community is rife. Gay men are frequently arrested and typically charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.

- Ivory Coast does not criminalise gay sex but there have been recorded cases of detention and prosecution.

- Tanzania has banned provision of condoms and lubricants to LGBT+ health clinics and, since 2018, increased the use of forced anal examinations.

- Convictions on the grounds of sodomy in Tunisia have reportedly been on the rise.

- In Kenya, lesbian, bisexual and queer women have experienced violence and marginalisation not only from general society but also from within the wider LGBT+ community.

- Broad protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation exists in three countries: Angola, Mauritius and South Africa. Employment protection exists in the same three countries plus Botswana, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Seychelles.

- South Africa is the only African country where gay marriage is legal and where the constitution protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In March 2018, the cabinet approved a bill criminalising hate crimes and hate speech. However, South Africa has high rates of rape and homophobic crime.

- Botswana decriminalised homosexuality in June last year, although the ruling is subject to appeal.

- Gabon's Senate voted in June to decriminalise homosexuality.

Source: The ILGA's 'State-Sponsored Homophobia' review (13th edition) and the State-Sponsored Homophobia: Global Legislation Overview Update reports.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Giles Elgood and Alexandra Hudson)