Rwanda to Vote on Criminalizing Homosexuality This Week
Some more anti-gay news coming out of central Africa. Now it's 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.
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."