LGBT rights in Africa

  1. Video content

    Video caption: LGBT: Persecution at home made me an immigrant

    Faced with persecution from family and society, most LGBT members in Africa are left with no choice but to seek asylum in other countries.

  2. Gabon's senate votes to decriminalise homosexuality

    A gay couple
    Image caption: Homosexuality is still broadly seen as a social taboo in Gabon

    Gabon's senate has strongly voted in favour of decriminalising homosexuality, a week after the lower house in the national assembly voted for a similar change.

    If the move is ratified by the president, Gabon will become one of only a few African countries to legally allow homosexuality.

    A number of prominent politicians, as well as Christian and Muslim leaders, have reacted angrily, describing it as a change designed to appease foreign donors.

    Last year, the central African nation criminalised homosexuality and made gay sex punishable with six months in prison and a large fine. Activists said that the move had sent the LGBT community further underground and had led to harassment.

    Many African countries impose jail sentences on homosexuals, who are in some cases threatened with the death penalty.

  3. Gabon MPs vote to decriminalise homosexuality

    BBC World Service

    Two men holding hands
    Image caption: Homosexuality is still broadly seen as a social taboo in Gabon

    Members of Gabon's lower house of parliament have voted to decriminalise homosexuality.

    If the proposal is approved by the upper house and president, it could be one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to reverse a law that punishes sexual relations between people of the same sex.

    Last year, the central African nation criminalised homosexuality and made gay sex punishable with six months in prison and a large fine.

    Activists said that had sent the LGBT community further underground and had led to harassment.

    Forty-eight members of parliament have now backed the proposal to change the 2019 law and lift the ban; half that number opposed the amendment.

    Same-sex marriage is still not allowed in Gabon, where homosexuality is still broadly seen as a social taboo.

    One MP in favour of keeping the ban said the lawmakers who had voted to legalise homosexuality had shaken the nation's customs and traditions.

  4. Video content

    Video caption: Gay in Nigeria: 'Everybody sees me as an abomination'

    Five years on from Nigeria's Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, discrimination appears to have worsened.

  5. LGBTQ Kenyans embrace ‘Queermas’ to fight festive loneliness

    Muthoni Noni Muchiri

    BBC News, Nairobi

    Members of Kenya’s LGBTQ community have embraced their own Christmas, called "Queermas", in an effort to fight loneliness and celebrate the festive season together.

    The term has been around for a while across the world but is gaining popularity in Kenya where gay sex is still a criminal act.

    For some members of the LGBTQ community in Kenya, this time of year can be isolating if they have been shunned by their families have to spend Christmas alone.

    One young woman, Kioko, who attended Queermas last year, says it brought people together. "There’s a sense of community and it’s a free space where you can enjoy things that you’ve grown up doing and are used to.

    "It’s a safe space for us and it feels nice to know you’re not alone."

    Feelings of isolation have been particularly strong for some this year because in May Kenya’s High Court ruled against campaigners seeking to overturn the law banning gay sex.

    The offence is still punishable by up to 14 years in prison, although it is unclear whether there have ever been any convictions.

    Some people wearing a rainbow flag walking away from High Court in May 2019
    Image caption: In May LGBTQ rights supporters were disappointed the law against gay sex was upheld
  6. Prosecution given final chance in Nigeria gay trial

    Mayeni Jones

    BBC News, Lagos

    Gay Nigerian
    Image caption: Some are estranged from their families after all the publicity around their arrests

    The trial of 47 men charged with same-sex public displays of affection in Nigeria has been adjourned until February.

    The prosecution failed to provide any witnesses against the accused for the second day running.

    The trial was not open to the media and was adjourned by the judge with a warning to the prosecution team that February would be their final chance, according to an eyewitness.

    The men, who were arrested at a birthday party in 2018, have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    At the time of their arrest their faces were shown on Nigerian television stations.

    Some of the accused have told the BBC the publicity around the arrest has led to them becoming estranged from their families and losing their jobs.

  7. Zambia in row with US envoy over jailing of gay couple

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    US Ambassador Daniel Foote
    Image caption: Ambassador Daniel Foote complained about the ruling last week

    Zambia's Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji plans to send a protest letter to Washington over last week's comments by the US ambassador on the jailing of a gay couple.

    Japhet Chataba and Steven Samba were sentenced on Wednesday to 15 years in prison by the High Court in the capital, Lusaka, after they sought a review of their conviction handed last year by a magistrate's court.

    US Ambassador Daniel Foote reacted to the sentence by saying he “was personally horrified to read about the sentencing of two men, who had a consensual relationship, which hurt absolutely no-one”.

    Mr Malanji told journalists over the weekend that he will dispatch the protest letter on Monday.

    “To question (the judiciary's) decision by a representative of a foreign government is tantamount to questioning the Zambian constitution,” Mr Malanji said.

    “Until the Zambian constitution is changed to accommodate that, the courts will always rule according to the Zambian constitution,” he said.

    Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia.

    Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has previously warned western countries that the country will not be forced to accept gay rights.

  8. Zambia court sentences two men to 15 years for gay sex

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    A high court in Zambia has sentenced two men to 15 years in jail after they were caught having sex in 2017.

    Zambia is a conservative country and same-sex relationships are frowned upon and homosexual acts are illegal.

    The court heard that Japhet Chataba and Steven Samba booked themselves into a lodge in Kapiri Mposhi, in central Zambia, where they committed the act.

    While they were in the room, one of the workers peeped through an open window and saw them having sex.

    The female worker then alerted her colleagues whom she invited to the window to catch a glimpse of two men.

    The two men were convicted last year by the Kapiri Mposhi Magistrates' Court but they took the case to the high court.

    But high court judge Charles Zulu refused to review the verdict of the lower court and handed down the 15-year sentence.

    "The trial court cannot be faulted and there is no basis to review or substitute the conviction and I further find that there were no irregularities by the trial court," Judge Zulu said, the state-owned Zambia Daily Mail newspaper quotes him as saying.

    Judge Zulu said he was satisfied that the lower court had been within the confines of the law when it convicted the defendants for "having sex against the order of nature" - the legal phrase used to describe gay sex.

    Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu, a lawyer by training, has previously spoken out against gay rights.

    He said he would not impose them on Zambians in exchange for donor aid.

    Mr Lungu has said certain rights that are enjoyed in other parts of the world may not be accepted by Zambians.

  9. Uganda plans death penalty for homosexuals

    A person holds an umbrella bearing the colors of the rainbow flag as others wave flags during the the first gay pride rally since the overturning of a tough anti-homosexuality law
    Image caption: Uganda's gay community held their first gay pride march in August 2014 after the court annulled the anti-homosexuality law

    Uganda's ethics and integrity minister has announced plans to re-introduce the controversial anti-gay law which was nullified by the Constitutional Court in 2014.

    Simon Lokodo told news agency Reuters that when the new bill becomes law offenders will be sentenced to death:

    “Our current penal law is limited. It only criminalises the act. We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalised. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence."

    He added that "homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans" and there had been a "massive recruitment by gay people" in schools and that they were promoting a "falsehood that people are born like that".

    In February 2014 President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill - that was known as the “Kill the Gays” bill - to toughen penalties against gay people.

    The Constitutional Court later overturned the law in August of that year ruling that MPs had passed the bill without the requisite quorum and it was therefore illegal.

    Simon Lokodo
    Image caption: Mr Lokodo says he was prepared for any negative response to his current campaign:

    Mr Lokodo said the new bill, which will be introduced in parliament in the coming weeks, has the backing of President Museveni and MPs.

    He told local NTV station he was confident he would get the necessary two-thirds support from his colleagues in parliament:

    “We have been talking to the MPs and we have mobilised them in big numbers... many are supportive.”

    Five years ago several Western countries, including the US, imposed visa restrictions, suspended aid and cancelled military exercises.

    Mr Lokodo said Uganda was prepared for any negative response to his current campaign.

    “We don’t like blackmailing," he said.

    "Much as we know that this is going to irritate our supporters in budget and governance, we can’t just bend our heads and bow before people who want to impose a culture which is foreign to us."

    In current laws - which date back to British colonial rule - gay sex is punishable with up to life imprisonment and activists say the new bill risked unleashing attacks against gay people.

    Pepe Julian Onziema from Sexual Minorities Uganda, an alliance of LGBT+ organisations, said its members were fearful, Reuters reports.

    “When the law was introduced last time, it whipped up homophobic sentiment and hate crimes,” said Mr Onziema.

    “Hundreds of LGBT+ people have been forced to leave the country as refugees and more will follow if this law is enacted. It will criminalise us from even advocating for LGBT+ rights, let alone supporting and protecting sexual minorities.”

    Mr Onziema said three gay men and one transgender woman had been killed in homophobic attacks in Uganda this year - the latest last week when a gay man was bludgeoned to death.

  10. Gay gospel singer 'forced to resign' after coming out

    Samba Cyuzuzo

    BBC Great Lakes

    Rwandan gospel singer Albert Nabonibo
    Image caption: Albert Nabonibo says he has been excluded by family and friends and no longer goes to his church

    Rwandan gospel singer Albert Nabonibo has told the BBC Great Lakes service that he was sacked from his accountancy job in the capital, Kigali, two weeks after revealing on the BBC that he was gay.

    Homosexuality is not an offence in Rwandan law but the largely Christian society has a very negative view of it.

    Mr Nabonibo's decision to go public about being gay in late August raised eyebrows considering he is a gospel musician.

    But shortly after, on 19 September, his employer forced him to resign, he said.

    “I was good at my job, but when fellow employees saw the story they started hating me, then my bosses pushed me to resign,” Mr Nabonibo says.

    The artist said that resigning was a better option compared to outright sacking, which could have tarnished his employment record.

    The BBC's attempt to get a comment from his former employer was unsuccessful.

    Mr Nabonibo said his life has changed since coming out. Some family members and friends no longer talk to him and he no longer goes to his church because of harassment.

    “I am afraid, I am not free as before, but I wish my society could understand,” he said.

  11. Video content

    Video caption: Leaving Africa for Kent meant Chris Garner could be his real self

    When a drag act at the bar where he worked was a no-show, Chris discovered his on-stage alter ego.

  12. Video content

    Video caption: Peter Tatchell on his experiences of Robert Mugabe

    The gay rights campaigner says he went from seeing Mr Mugabe ''as a man with a just cause" to a critic of his regime.

  13. Shock after Rwanda gospel singer reveals he is gay

    Samba Cyuzuzo

    BBC Great Lakes

    Albert Nabonibo
    Image caption: Albert Nabonibo says it is time for Rwandans to know that it is normal for some people to be gay

    A Rwandan gospel singer has told the BBC he expected a backlash after telling a Christian YouTube channel on Monday that he was gay.

    Albert Nabonibo, 35, said he was ready to face the challenges in a culture that was hostile towards homosexuality - and his revelation has shocked his fans.

    Rwandan laws do not outlaw gay acts but same-sex marriages are not permitted and most churches in the mainly Christian country preach that homosexuality is a sin.

    This has meant that for years Nabonibo has hidden his sexuality – and he is the first gospel singer in Rwanda to come out.

    “In fact there are many like me even there in churches. The fact is they hide it because of the mentality of church-goers and the community and for their security,” Nabonibo told the BBC.

    But Nabonibo who was born in Kacyiru suburbs of the capital, Kigali, said it was time people to know that being gay was normal.

    “I feel for others like me who live in fear. They should go out to be heard, because we have to be received like other people out here,” he said.

    But he has already started to receive abuse since coming out.

    “Some people have insulted me, some have called me foolish and others called me stupid. But there are some who understand me - like my brother who has always encouraged me to be who I am.”

    Whatever negativity he faces, Nabonibo says will continue “singing for God”.

    “I will live with those who accept me and those who reject me – I know it will be a daily battle.”

  14. Video content

    Video caption: London Pride 2019: Highlights from this year's parade

    Fifty years on from the Stonewall uprising, London Pride 2019 was just as colourful as ever.

  15. Video content

    Video caption: What are the LGBT laws in Africa?

    Botswana recently decriminalised same-sex relationships. But what about the rest of Africa?