News (World)

Gabon criminalized homosexuality & two men have already been arrested

Gabon's flag torn to show the rainbow flag
Gabon's flag torn to show the rainbow flag Photo: Shutterstock

The central African nation of Gabon passed legislation to ban homosexuality, bringing the total number of countries that ban homosexuality back up to 70.

Reuters reports that the new law in the majority Christian nation will punish “sexual relations between people of the same sex” with up to six months in prison and a fine of five million Central African francs (around $8500).

Related: Gay man jailed in Cameroon for sending ‘I love you’ text to another man dies

Gabon is a former French colony and it had no laws to punish homosexuality on the books when it got its independence in 1960.

A government official told Reuters that the bill actually passed quietly in July.

Davis Mac-Iyalla of the Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, a Ghanaian organization, said that he knows of two men in Gabon who have already been arrested under the law and had to bribe the police to be let go.

“It has further sent the LGBT community underground and has created harassment,” Mac-Iyalla said. “The corrupt police now use that, arrest people and then people have to bribe their way out.”

Earlier this year, Botswana and Angola legalized homosexuality, and last year India’s high court overturned their ban, bringing the number of countries that ban homosexuality down to 69.

“Globally… we’re seeing polarizing tensions,” said Lucas Ramon Mendos of ILGA World, an LGBTQ organization.

“Where things are getting better, there is a momentum for even more improvement, and where things are bad now we’re seeing things are worsening.”

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