LGBT rights in Africa

  1. Same-sex couples in Namibia lose court bid over spouses

    LGBT rainbow banner

    A panel of three judges has dismissed an application by same-sex couples in Namibia for their foreign spouses to live and work in the country.

    The judges of the High Court ruled that they were bund by a 20-year ruling of the more senior Supreme Court that the relationships of same-sex couples were not recognised by Namibian law, rights activist Omar van Reenen told the BBC's Shingai Nyoka.

    The case centred on two couples: Daniel Digashu and Johan Potgieter and a second couple, Anette Seiler-Lilles and Anita Seiler-Lilles.

    Mr Digashu, a South African, had an application for a work permit denied, while German-born Anita Seiler-Lilles failed in a bid to get permanent residency because of their same-sex marital status, Reuters news agency reports.

    Both couples secured their legal partnerships outside Namibia, it says.

    Their legal team is expected to appeal against the ruling.

    The case is one of several recent legal challenges to Namibian laws which human rights groups say are outdated and discriminatory.

    Last year a Namibian high court granted citizenship to a gay couple's two-year-old son born via surrogacy.

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    Video caption: Mental health in Africa: the long term impact on the LGBT community

    Criminalisation, stigma and homophobia are just a few issues adding to the mental health struggles of LGBTQ people in Africa.

  3. Gay SA celebrity snubs Zimbabwe after protests

    A South African celebrity has changed his travel plans after a church group in Zimbabwe tried to bar him from entering the country because he is gay.

    Somizi Mhlongo was due to be in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, to appear as a guest chef at the reopening of a major restaurant, TimesLive reports.

    But earlier this week the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe wrote to the government urging the authorities to bar him.

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    "If we allow Somizi to come to our land, spiritually we would have disturbed a lot, and physically we would have openly accepted homosexuality in Zimbabwe," the letter said.

    The youth wing of the ruling Zanu-PF party also opposed the visit, IOL reports.

    In an Instagram video on Wednesday, Mhlongo spoke about the moves against him. He said if a country doesn't want him for being who he is then "I don't want to be there anyway."

    On Thursday, he posted a video showing him on a flight to Namibia.

    "Bye bye Zimbabwe. Hello Namibia," he wrote:

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  4. Botswana postpones gay sex case ruling

    LGBT flag
    Image caption: The government appealed a 2019 ruling that decriminalised gay sex

    The court in Botswana has postponed the ruling for a case seeking the overturning of the decriminalisation of gay sex.

    The judges said they need more time to research and debate the matter and did not set the next ruling date.

    A university student Letsweletse Motshidiemang had said the law should change as homosexuality was widely accepted in the society.

    The state representative said there was no evidence that the society's attitude had changed.

    The court had in 2019 allowed the decriminalisation of gay sex which previously came with seven years imprisonment.

    The government appealed against the ruling.

  5. Zambia leader denies gay rights talks during US trip

    US Vice President Kamala Harris with President Hakainde Hichilema at the White House
    Image caption: US Vice-President Kamala Harris hosted President Hakainde Hichilema at the White House last week

    Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema has denied holding talks on gay rights during his trip to the United Nations general assembly in New York.

    Same-sex relationships are outlawed in Zambia, where British colonial-era laws on homosexuality still apply.

    President Hichilema made the remarks on Thursday during a televised press briefing in the capital, Lusaka, after he was challenged to clarify his itinerary during the trip.

    "We did not go there to talk about lesbian rights. We did not go for that. This is a point I want to make emphatically," he is quoted as saying by Zambia Daily Mail.

    He added that the Zambian constitution was clear on issues of gay and lesbian rights, the Lusaka Times site reports.

    The US recalled its ambassador to Zambia in December 2019 amid a diplomatic row after he criticised the imprisonment of a gay couple.

    The Zambian government accused him of trying to dictate policy.

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  6. Ghana minister: No intention to change homosexuality laws

    Seren Jones

    Producer, If You Don't Know podcast

    Ghana’s information minister says politicians have “no intention” of changing its laws on sexuality, after an anti-gay bill was submitted to parliament.

    Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told BBC Radio 1Xtra’s If You Don’t Know Podcast that the country’s current laws on “matters of sexuality” were “adequate”.

    Ghana’s criminal code outlaws what it describes as "unnatural carnal knowledge" but does not explicitly mention LGBT+ people.

    Last week, the draft of an anti-gay bill was submitted to parliament. It proposed a 10-year jail sentence for people who promoted LGBT+ rights through mainstream or social media, including expressing sympathy or offering social or medical support.

    The bill, which sparked outrage and concern, especially among Ghanaians in the LGBT+ communities, is currently in review and expected to be debated next month.

    Video content

    Video caption: Members of Ghana’s LGBT community speak out about anti-gay discrimination
  7. Ghana MPs propose tough anti-gay law

    Thomas Naadi

    BBC News, Accra

    A group of Ghanaian MPs has drawn up a draft bill which, among other things, proposes a 10-year jail term for people who promote LGBT+ activities through mainstream or social media.

    The bill has been submitted to Ghana’s speaker of parliament for review.

    Also under the draft measure, titled the Promotion of Proper Human Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021, individuals who engage in non-heterosexual sex could face a fine or a prison term of up to three years.

    The bill's lead sponsor, opposition MP Sam Nartey George, told the BBC that the lawmakers believed this was not a human rights issue.

    Some Ghanaians have expressed concern about its potential to violate the rights of members of the LGBT+ community and activists.

    The bill is likely to be passed, although there could be some ammendments.

    Top government officials, including the speaker of parliament, have already indicated a desire to enact anti-homosexuality laws.

    Ghana’s criminal code outlaws what it describes as "unnatural" carnal knowledge but does not explicitly mention LGBT people.

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    Video content

    Video caption: Members of Ghana’s LGBT community speak out about anti-gay discrimination
  8. Why we organised Malawi's first gay pride event

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    Video caption: In Malawi it remains illegal to be gay - with possible jail sentences of up to 14 years

    In Malawi it remains illegal to be gay - and a conviction can carry a jail sentence of up to 14 years

  9. Ghana speaker condemned after anti-gay comment

    Thomas Naadi

    BBC News, Accra

    The LGBT community has condemned Ghana’s speaker of parliament for saying that the country was taking urgent steps to enact clear anti-gay laws.

    According to Alban Bagbin, homosexuality should not be encouraged or accepted because of what he saw as its eventual negative impact on society.

    The speaker was responding to a letter from a political activist who petitioned parliament to pass a new law that would ban LGBT activities in the country.

    But Robert Akoto, who heads the Alliance for Equality and Diversity, says the speaker of parliament needs some education on LGBT matters.

    He told the BBC that Ghana should not "degrade its standard in human rights which is already degraded".

    There is no law in Ghana that says being gay is illegal. But same-sex relationships are criminalised by a criminal code

    Twenty-one people are currently on trial in Ghana for unlawful assembly after they were accused of promoting an LGBT agenda.

    In March, members of the LGBT community told the BBC about the discrimination they faced in the West African nation:

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    Video caption: Members of Ghana’s LGBT community speak out about anti-gay discrimination
  10. Ghanaian activists call for release of LGBT members

    Thomas Naadi

    BBC News, Accra

    Civil society organisations are calling for the release of 21 LGBT people who were arrested in Ghana's Volta region.

    They were holding a meeting in the town of Ho on Thursday to discuss ways of protecting their rights in Ghana.

    The police said they were arrested and detained for promoting an LGBT agenda at an unlawful assembly.

    A court on Friday denied their bail application and the 21 are due to appear in court next week.

    It isn't unlawful to identify as LGBT in Ghana but sexual acts between males are illegal in the country.

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  11. Namibia allows entry to gay couple's twins

    Namibian citizen Phillip Luhl holds one of his twin daughters as he speaks to his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado via Zoom meeting in Johannesburg,
    Image caption: Phillip Lühl and his husband have been battling for citizenship for their daughters

    Namibia has issued travel documents to twin infant daughters of a gay couple who have been in a legal fight to take them home from South Africa where they were born.

    Namibia's home affairs ministry, which confirmed issuing the documents, however said the move did not confer citizenship on the twins.

    Phillip Lühl, a Namibian, and his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado have been battling for Namibian citizenship for their daughters, who were born in March to a surrogate in South Africa.

    The twins were refused entry to Namibia in April – with the authorities requiring that Mr Lühl prove a genetic link that he was the father of the children.

    However a new minister appointed in April, Albert Kawama, studied the earlier documents and "authorised the issuance of emergency travel certificates applied for", the AFP news agency reports.

    The couple have welcomed the decision, but noted that it had been disruptive to the family.

    Namibia forbids sexual contact between males but the law is rarely enforced.

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