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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The disease that is homophobia

There’s a rampant disease spreading through Africa, it seems.

It’s homophobia.

We’ve seen what Uganda is capable of; now it’s the turn of Rwanda. Its own brand of homophobia is being debated in its lower legislative house today.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) points out that the article in the penal code that could make homosexuality a crime – Article 217 – is probably illegal:

Article 217 violates Rwandans’ basic human rights and is contradictory to the Rwandan Constitution as well as various regional and international conventions. IGLHRC, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), and Rwanda’s Horizon Community Association (HOCA) will shortly issue a call to action to demand that the Rwandan Parliament withdraw this article. We urge the international community to act against this proposed law and support the equality, dignity, and privacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Rwanda.

The proposed code will criminalise “[a]ny person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice”. If the Chamber of Deputies approves, the draft code will go before the Rwandan Senate, most likely in early 2010.

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