News | Rwanda

Rwanda to Vote on Criminalizing Homosexuality This Week

Some more anti-gay news coming out of central Africa. Now it's Rwanda.

Box Turtle Bulletin reports:Rwanda

BTB has just learned that the Rwandan Parliament is scheduled to take up consideration of a change to Rwanda’s penal code which would criminalize homosexuality with a punishment of five to ten years. It would also ban counselling and advocacy that could be interpreted as “encouraging or sensitizing” people to enter into same-sex relationships.

The problematic section in the penal code is article 217 which states that:

Any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice, shall be liable for a term of imprisonment ranging from five (5) to ten (10) years and fine ranging from Two Hundred thousand Rwanda Francs (200.000 RwF) to one million (1,000,000)Rwanda francs.”

The fines range from US$350 to US$1750. The average annual income is just US$370.

One key phrase of the proposed penal code, “encourages or sensitizes,” would have the effect of criminalizing advocacy on behalf of LGBT people. It would also severely impact the ability to deliver health services to LGBT people.

Guess who's really involved there too? Pastor Rick Warren, who last week was compelled to condemn neighboring Uganda's "kill the gays" bill, even though he had a hand in helping create it.

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reports: "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."

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. "Any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice, shall be liable for a term of imprisonment..."

    If that is the *actual* wording of the penal code then it doesn't make grammatical sense and could be read as though anyone engaged in *any* sexual practice (including consensual heterosexual sex) could be imprisoned.

    Posted by: nudel | Dec 15, 2009 8:29:14 PM

  2. hey you're absolutely right Nudel

    Posted by: Eduardo Guize | Dec 15, 2009 8:32:10 PM

  3. sorry guys read the first sentence
    "Any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex" PEOPLE OF THE SAME SEX......

    Posted by: AlexInBoston | Dec 15, 2009 9:58:19 PM

  4. Uganda, Gambia, Zimbabwe, now this... It makes me wonder if I'll be a big enough person to give a damn the next time there's a famine, civil war or something in Africa.

    Posted by: Mort | Dec 15, 2009 10:01:08 PM

  5. @mort: Yeah, because the genocide and mass death of millions of innocent people just matters a whole lot less when it turns out their cultural values as expressed through the oppressive dictates of their rulers are DIFFERENT FROM OURS! It doesn't matter that Africa and the Global South has historically been colonized and economically oppressed by global trade "agreements" and structural adjustment programs, which have killed thousands on their own (and guess what - those were written by white Global Northerners). It only matters that they don't like fags. boo hoo.

    wow, way to start a meaningful dialogue on how race and nationalism intersects with queerness and globalization.

    oh and guess what - i'm bash back! you can say i'm a self-hating queer if you want, but i know that i am just capable of thinking for myself

    Posted by: alex | Dec 15, 2009 10:18:38 PM

  6. Guess that means they get a pass from you, alex. After all, if any group (or individual) was ever oppressed and exploited at any time in history, when they do the oppressing, it's okay. After all, two wrongs do make a right. Infantilizing racist scumbag. Well, you're no longer relevant to the discussion.

    A lot of the time, the horror that continues to exist is largely the byrpoduct of their own orchestration. Many african countries just can't get out of their own way, and enact policy that further mires them in hopelessness.

    Posted by: TANK | Dec 15, 2009 10:31:21 PM

  7. you would think that Rwanda would have learned a lesson!

    Posted by: larry | Dec 15, 2009 10:42:07 PM

  8. Sick. As if Rwanda doesn't have a million other things to be concerned about. But Rick Warren and the like have been spending a lot of time and money brain-washing in Africa - sorry, 'saving souls'.

    Posted by: Gregus | Dec 16, 2009 12:14:00 AM

  9. Since both Rwanda and Uganda violates the Universal Human Rights Ordinances the USA MUST stop all aid and assistance to these countries.Of course it will not happened because the USA President Barack Obama being a christian and a black,he hates gays.What about Matt Damon and Brad Pitt and Bono and all the other advocates of african help and assistance when they are needed to safeguard a group in need of their help?.All hypocrites that will do nothing to help.As for me I'm stoping all donations to all africans assistance organizations.All gays should do the same.Where is Mandela and his friends to help gays in pain of death?.Hypocrites.Gays Unite and Boycott african assistance organizations until these countries stop these laws against gays.BOYCOTT AFRICA AND ITS ASSISTANCE ORGANIZATIONS NOW.

    Posted by: Oscar in Miami Beach | Dec 16, 2009 1:10:02 AM

  10. @ALEXINBOSTON - Perhaps you meant the 'first phrase', as the article quoted is one entire sentence and the sentence as a whole is still woefully expressed. For example, how does one "practice people of the same sex"?...

    Posted by: nudel | Dec 16, 2009 1:15:24 AM

  11. Just give a shout when any of you pussies grows a pair and wants to actually do something about Warren and his ilk.

    I'll be around.

    Posted by: Ace of Spades | Dec 16, 2009 1:31:48 AM

  12. Alex: Was Auschwitz just about not liking Jews? Did Hitler simply have different values than ourselves? Yes, the European slave trade and colonization of Africa were evil, period.

    And the death penalty for homosexual acts is also evil, period. Would you claim that the Holocaust prevents all criticism of Israel? The world watched as Rwanda was destroyed by genocide. For the sake of our gay brothers and sisters and fellow human beings, I hope that the world does not just watch now. Unfortunately, victims of evil like Rwanda and others, are also capable of great evil; as the Holocaust does not give Israel a free pass, neither do slavery, colonialism, ethnic genocide, or an unfair global trading system give Africans a free pass.

    I believe that respect for cultural differences does mean that I must be silent when I see oppression and violence and murder. I also believe that some things are evil in themselves, and not just cultural variables. We must both own the trespasses of our society and speak out in the face of injustice – EVERYWHERE.

    Posted by: Ross | Dec 16, 2009 1:45:48 AM

  13. As time goes on I care less about africa and it's people and less about African americans in this country,had it with homophobia in the black culture. Still love Obama though.

    Posted by: chad | Dec 16, 2009 2:27:55 AM

  14. While Rwanda, along with Uganda, should not be given a free pass because of their past history with colonization, extreme famine, unfair economic policies forced upon them, genocide (in the case of Rwanda), etc., people should not turn against the populace of these countries. LGBT and the rest of the world at large needs to realize that a lot of governments like those of Uganda and Rwanda have a sordid history when it comes to representing their people, and have routinely exploited ethnicity, religion, etc. for political and economic gain.

    Rwanda is heavily Catholic, and for all I know most of the populace would like to see such a law passed, but something tells me based on history, the people really have little to do with this. I believe the Rwandan government is facing a lot of international pressure over the RPF government committing crimes against humanity themselves and internal pressure within a government that is in constant turmoil over ethnicity divisions established in colonial times.

    Posted by: Leo | Dec 16, 2009 2:35:11 AM

  15. Yes, Chad, fight homophobia with racism! >.>

    Posted by: Leo | Dec 16, 2009 2:43:06 AM

  16. @Oscar

    Leave Mandela alone.

    The man is in the twilight of his life.

    And I can guarantee you that he has done far more for gays than you have.

    In 1994, Mandela included a shout out to homosexuals in his inaugural speech long before it was fashionable to do so. Some Americans are still swooning over the fact that Obama actually mentioned us during the 2008 campaign. Way to show our "superiority" there.

    When the ANC was on the verge of removing some of more liberal provisions in the interim constitution - such as the one explicitly referring to sexual orientation as a suspect class - Mandela urged them to reconsider.

    In 1998, Mandela signed South Africa's version of ENDA into law.

    In 1999, he caught a lot of flak - from white and black politicians alike - for his initial refusal to hand over former Zimbabwean President Canaan Banana to the Mugabe regime on sodomy charges. Even though South Africa had an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe, Mandela stubbornly pointed to the fact that "what is illegal in Zimbabwe is not necessarily illegal here." When Mugabe raised the stakes by throwing in rape and assault charges, Mandela was forced to give in. But he got assurances from Mugabe with regards to jail time. And indeed, Banana only served six months under house arrest of his 10 year sentence.

    He also appointed most of the justices who later overturned South Africa's ban on same-sex marriage. A ban that was enacted by the white dominated government in 1961.

    Posted by: John | Dec 16, 2009 3:36:22 AM

  17. Hey guys stop talking about wars,famine,poverty in Africa.You are forgeting that the western including America,got rich on expense of Africa.Even now they are still getting a lot from Africa.Causing wars everywhere to get Diamonds and gold...Everybody knows about this.So you are living a good life because of us africans.Starting from Slavery to colonisation the north has always benefited from Africa.Maybe homosexuality is in your culture (europeans and Americans) but it's not African culture at all.So if we say we dont want homosexuality we dont want it.And we are tired of the White always wanting us to do what they tell us.Just like you guys, many western churches threatened to stop all aid if our churches refuse to accept homosexuality.That's ridiculous.Even the Bible says no to Homosexuality.I wonder if your pastors still belive in the Bible!!!Africa is tired of always receiving orders from the North.Enough is enough.If you want to give do it because you've got a good heart.As far as I understand no one is putting you under pressure to give.So you dont have to boast about it.

    Posted by: Gabriel | Dec 16, 2009 4:04:18 AM

  18. @ Gabriel:

    "Homosexuality is in your culture (europeans and Americans) but it's not African culture at all."

    Regardless the fact that homosexualtiy occures all over the world (and in many species) - you do know that before christianisation homosexual acts where common among many african tribes/communities, no? Check your facts!

    Posted by: c_jean | Dec 16, 2009 6:51:23 AM

  19. Gabriel is everything wrong with humanity.
    Sad. But true.

    I love how the fact how his type pretend to not know that it was AFRICANS who sold other Africans into slavery.

    Posted by: Tony X | Dec 16, 2009 9:29:33 AM

  20. These comments are disgusting.

    Hate is hate.

    Those defending Africa are a joke.

    Posted by: Tony X | Dec 16, 2009 9:32:00 AM

  21. JOHN,

    Oscar is in the twilight of his life, so don't bother trying to educate him.


    thanks, but don't you bother either. These racist bitches hated black people long before they knew anything about black homophobia or anti-gay sentiment in black communities. They hate black gays also, and so we hate them.


    homosexuality is as African as rhythm. The transgender type of it can easily be verified. Don't let anybody tell you any different.

    TANK & CHAD,

    go to Miami and suck OSCAR'S eighty year old dick

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Dec 16, 2009 9:40:03 AM

  22. I think I'll go be rebellious and pray that this bill doesn't pass :)

    Posted by: OY | Dec 16, 2009 10:13:43 AM

  23. Many of the comments here make me dislike being connected to others who also share an attraction to men.

    2 things: 1) Many of the countries in Africa that have longest-term issues are also the places that have had some the worst effects of colonization. Let someone intrude in your home and see if they don't make a mess of things. It also a well known fact while same-sex attraction is not new. Though African culture doesn't have any well known concepts of same-sex attraction (outside of Egyptian lore) that does not mean it didn't exist. However homophobia is a new and very Western concept, usually supported and taught through religion, in this case, Christianity.

    2) Making comments such as: "a lot of the time, the horror that continues to exist is largely the byrpoduct of their own orchestration. Many african countries just can't get out of their own way, and enact policy that further mires them in hopelessness," only serves to deflect the problem and is as ridiculous as saying 'poor people are poor due to means entirely their own.'

    I am neither defending nor placing blame but I believe you're going to discuss a situation at least have you facts straight.

    Posted by: Hmmm | Dec 16, 2009 2:41:59 PM

  24. People complain about the United States all the time. Even though the president is not the president I wanted, I still love living here and would never even entertain the thought of moving elsewhere.

    Posted by: Jimmy/Boston | Dec 16, 2009 6:37:34 PM

  25. "2) Making comments such as: "a lot of the time, the horror that continues to exist is largely the byrpoduct of their own orchestration. Many african countries just can't get out of their own way, and enact policy that further mires them in hopelessness," only serves to deflect the problem and is as ridiculous as saying 'poor people are poor due to means entirely their own.'"

    This is precisely the type of racist paternalism that the so-called radical left embraces that is the fodder for knee jerk rightwing memes. First, you need to step back and understand the difference between an explanation and an excuse. That Hitler killed six million of my people can be an explanation; it is no excuse. THere is no excuse. Further, to suggest that rwandans are helpless to confront their own bigotry because of the oppression they've endured is absolute bullshit. It is an attempt to excuse their horrendous behavior on this issue (and the behavior of other African nations) under this guise of "they're like babies...they can't tell right from wrong...after all, we gave them bad information". So either you're suggesting that they're far too primitive and stupid to understand the difference between right and wrong, or they're (those proposing this legislation and supporting it) are bigoted for reasons that any one else is, and is subject to the same criticism and shares in the same degree of responsibility as anyone else. If the former, you're racist scum; if the latter, you're wasting your breathe talking about why they might be bigots, as the entire POINT is that THEY'RE BIGOTS, AND THERE'S NO EXCUSE FOR IT.

    Posted by: TANK | Dec 16, 2009 6:54:05 PM

  26. 1 2 »

Post a comment


« «Feds Say Jorge Mercado Murder Will be Processed as Hate Crime« «