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FACTBOX-Legal hurdles faced by LGBT+ people in Africa

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 by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). 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.

Reuters | Updated: 01-07-2020 11:39 IST | Created: 29-06-2020 22:03 IST
FACTBOX-Legal hurdles faced by LGBT+ people in Africa
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

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 link by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Africa accounts for nearly half of the countries worldwide where homosexuality is outlawed, according to the review, published in March and updated in December link last year. A large majority of Gabon's senate voted on Monday to decriminalize homosexuality, the president's office said, paving the way for the country to become one of the few in Africa to reverse an earlier ban on same-sex relationships.

- 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 criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual activity, adding it is "an effective method to contain the country's HIV epidemic". - In 2017, Chad criminalized same-sex acts in what the ILGA review called "a worrying example of legal regression in the region".

- In July last year, Gabon adopted a new Penal Code that criminalized consensual same-sex acts. - 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 criminalize 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 marginalization 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 criminalizing hate crimes and hate speech. However, South Africa has high rates of rape and homophobic crime.

- Botswana decriminalized homosexuality in June last year, although the ruling is subject to appeal. Source: The ILGA's 'State-Sponsored Homophobia' review (13th edition) and the State-Sponsored Homophobia: Global Legislation Overview Update reports.


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