Homosexuality: African countries where it is illegal to be gay

The prosecution of gay people in Africa has it’s roots in colonialism.
The recent crackdown on people in the LGBTQ community in Cameroon has brought to the limelight the struggles of people in that community across Africa.

In March, two transgender Cameroonians were arrested and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of “attempted homosexuality”.

Where is homosexuality still outlawed?

There are 69 countries that have laws that criminalise homosexuality, and nearly half of these are in Africa.

However, in some countries there have been moves to decriminalise same-sex unions.

In February this year, Angola’s President Joao Lourenco signed into law a revised penal code to allow same-sex relationships and bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In June last year, Gabon reversed a law that had criminalised homosexuality and made gay sex punishable with six months in prison and a large fine.

Botswana’s High Court also ruled in favour of decriminalising homosexuality in 2019.

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Mozambique and the Seychelles have also scrapped anti-homosexuality laws in recent years.

But there are countries where existing laws outlawing homosexuality have been tightened, including Nigeria and Uganda.

In Nigeria, gays face up to 14 years inprisonment

In May 2019, the high court in Kenya upheld laws criminalising homosexual acts.

Colonial legacy

Many of the laws criminalising homosexual relations originate from colonial times.
British Commonlaw stipulates 14 years in prison for same-sex intercourse, a punishment which is still applied up till today in most African countries.

Out of the 53 countries in the Commonwealth – a loose association of countries most of them former British colonies – 36 have laws that criminalise homosexuality.

Countries that criminalise homosexuality today also have criminal penalties against women who have sex with women, although the original British laws applied only to men.

Some observers note that the risk of prosecution in some places is minimal.

Activist groups also say the ability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) organisations to carry out advocacy work is being restricted.

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For example, an LGBT advocacy office was forced to close down in Ghana earlier this year after massive opposition from religious groups.

Global progress

There is a global trend toward decriminalising same-sex acts.

So far, 28 countries in the world recognise same-sex marriages, and 34 others provide for some partnership recognition for same-sex couples, Ilga says.

As of December 2020, 81 countries had laws against discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation. Twenty years ago, there were only 15.

Full list of African countries where homosexuality is outlawed:

Algeria

Burundi

Cameroon

Chad

Comoros

Egypt

Eritrea

Eswatini

Ethiopia

Gambia

Ghana

Guinea

Kenya

Liberia

Libya

Malawi

Maldives

Mauritania

Mauritius

Morocco

Namibia

Nigeria

Senegal

Sierra Leone

Somalia

South Sudan

Sudan

Tanzania

Togo

Tunisia

Uganda

Zambia

Zimbabwe

Ismaeel

Writer and that loves African geopolitics.

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