Bill To Decriminalise Homosexuality Makes Headway In Gabon

 

A bill to decriminalise homosexual activity is making headway in Gabon, where such contact has been banned for nearly a year.

The central African country’s National Assembly voted late Tuesday to adopt an amendment to criminal legislation to remove a paragraph which prohibits “sexual relations between persons of the same sex”, a source close to parliament confirmed to AFP on Wednesday.

The text had been introduced by the Senate, the upper house, into a draft law in July 2019.

It stipulated that having homosexual relations in Gabon was considered “an offence against morality”, punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of five million CFA francs ($8,600, 7,600 euros).

On Tuesday, “48 deputies voted in favour of decriminalisation, 24 against and 25 abstained,” the source told AFP.

For the bill to be passed, the text must still be adopted in the same terms by the Senate.

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The criminalisation of homosexuality had gone almost unnoticed in this country of less than two million inhabitants when it was adopted last year.

The amendment voted by the National Assembly on Tuesday, meanwhile, caused a stir in the local press and on social media networks on Wednesday.

Homosexuality is widely criminalised in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than half of its countries banning or repressing homosexual relations — in a few places, with the threat of the death penalty.

AFP

Alleged Sodomy: Security Operatives Rescue Police Officer, Partner From Mob Attack

 

Men of the Imo State Police Command reacted just in time to contain an incident where a police officer named Chibuike Ukazu, and his alleged gay partner, Yellow, would have been lynched by an angry mob averse to homosexuality.

The state police spokesperson, Orlando Ikeokwu, in a statement on Wednesday, said the two men were rescued after the youths of the community claimed to have caught the constable with his partner in the act of homosexuality.

Ikeokwu said an investigation into the matter has commenced with a view to unravel what actually happened.

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Below is a full statement as issued by police spokesman Ikeokwu Godson Orlando.

On the 21/4/2020 , upon information received through a phone call,the Divisional Police officer in charge of Nkwere Division promptly moved into Umueze autonomous community in Orlu LGA, and rescued one F/NO.512351 CHIBUIKE UKAZU ‘M’ .

Preliminary investigation revealed that the youths of the community claimed to have caught the constable with one of his friend,name yet unknown but nicknamed ‘YELLOW’, in acts of homosexuality, as a result the youths pounced on them and beat them to stupor ,then took them to the Palace of traditional ruler before their rescue by the DPO and his team.

The command therefore wish to warn members of the public to desist from taking laws into their hand by resorting to self help especially on infractions by the members of the Police or other security agencies, all are advised to report all grievances to the nearest Police station for prompt and decisive action.

However, investigation into the matter has commenced with a view to unravel what actually transpired and if found culpable will face the wrath of the law.

SP IKEOKWU GODSON ORLANDO
POLICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
FOR:THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE
IMO STATE POLICE COMMAND

Homosexuality: Lagos Arraigns 28 Adults, 12 Minors

The Lagos State Government on Thursday arraigned 28 adults and 12 minors before a Lagos Magistrate Court for allegedly engaging in homosexuality contrary to the laws of the state.

The minors were arraigned before Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court, while the adults were arraigned before Yaba Magistrate Court.

The defendants, who are all males, were arraigned separately on one-count.
This was disclosed in a statement by the Assistant Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Justice Kayode Oyekanmi.

They were all arrested last Saturday by men of the Lagos State Police Command in Owode Onirin area of the State.

The defendants were said to have been caught in the act of homosexuality at a popular hotel in the area known as Vintage Hotel.

According to the criminal charge, the defendants “On or about 29th July, 2017, at Vintage Hotel, No. 999 Ikorodu Road/Toyin Close, Weigh Bridge, Owode Onirin, Lagos, in the Lagos Magisterial District, engaged in gay activities by permitting male persons to have canal knowledge of themselves against the order of nature and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 261 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.”

Some of the adults were Adedayo Kamadupe (27), Abiodun Pedro (22), Ikechukwu Onyebuchi (32), Dike Stanley (19), Oji Charles Isioma (28), Garuba Ibrahim (21), Monday Favour (20), Ayo Marcus Ayobamidele (26), Stanley Adeasbo (25), Victor Isaac (18), Godwin Williams (19), Kashimawo Oluwatosin (25), Abass Tajudeen (24), Olamigoke Adeola (19) and Yussuf Fawaz (19).

Others were Johnson Michael (19), Francis Michael (22), Samuel Adeyinka (25), Samuel Collins (25), Kazeem Akorede (25), Adebayo Bukola (23), Ochiagha Ifeanyi (19), Babatunde Taiwo (26), Raphael Dugh (30), Kenneth Ubaji (19), Alisi Ferdinand Okechukwu (30), Malik Ahmed (18) and Olamide Adeola (18).

After the charge was read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty, while their lawyers – Ehiko Onoche, S.M Oladele urged the court to admit them to bail.

The prosecution team led by Ms Adetutu Oshinusi from the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Lagos State Ministry of Justice did not oppose their bail application but urged the Court to direct the defendants to submit themselves to the Lagos State Aids Control Agency (LSACA) for monitoring and Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) for rehabilitation.

The officials of both agencies were also present in court.

In his ruling, Chief Magistrate Adewale Ojo granted bail to the defendants in the sum of N500, 000 and two sureties in like sum.

One of the sureties, according to the court, must be a relative of the defendants, while the other must be resident within the court’s jurisdiction. The sureties must also present evidence of tax payment.

The Magistrate also granted the request of the prosecution demanding monitoring and Sexual rehabilitation for the defendants, while the matter was adjourned to September 8, 2017.

The minors were arraigned before Magistrate Segun Elias of Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court in a closed-session.

Kano State Partners With Police Officers’ Wives To Check Child Abuse

 POWA-KanoThe Kano State Government is in partnership with the Police Officers Wives Association (POWA) to check sexual abuse and other child related abuses.

Receiving the members of POWA in Kano, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said his government had noticed the increasing cases of child abuse which relates mostly to sexual abuses including rape and homosexuality, among others in secondary school pupils.

However, he said that the government had already set up a public enlightenment committee, to among other things, enlighten members of the community on the need to collectively participate in the war against child abuse in the state.

The committee has since recommend the closure of Hassan Gwarzo Collage over allegation of Sodomy. Speaking on the issue of drug abuse, the Governor said that the state reformatory institute had been empowered, to further reform drug addicts in the state.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of POWA, Saliha Musa Katsina, told the Governor that the rise of rape cases, drug and other child abuses were becoming more disturbing in Kano State.

She also called on the state government to look into the plight of widows and orphans in the Police Force, who lost their dear ones in the war against insurgents.

Church Synod To Open Amid Gay Row

church synoid popePope Francis is due to celebrate mass at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, at the start of a synod of bishops that will focus on family issues.

The run-up was dominated by a row over a Vatican priest, Poland-born Krzysztof Charamsa, who on Saturday announced he was in a gay relationship.

Monseigneur Charamsa said he wanted to challenge the church’s “backwards” attitude to homosexuality.

He was later dismissed from his post at the Vatican’s office in charge of guarding Roman Catholic doctrine.

A spokesman said Charamsa’s decision to give interviews on the eve of the synod was “grave and irresponsible” and would put Pope Francis under “undue media pressure”.

Almost 300 Church leaders -will be discussing such issues as the treatment of Catholics who are gay, and how to approach couples who live together without being married or wish to take communion after being divorced.

Court Annuls Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law

Uganda gay protestUganda’s Constitutional Court on Friday annulled an anti-gay law that had drawn widespread criticism.

The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014, had initially proposed a death penalty for offenders but was later changed to life in prison.

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, had signed the law, defying protests from rights groups, criticism from Western donors and a U.S. warning that it would complicate relations.

A petition had been raised by activists who said that the anti-gay measure was invalid because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked quorum.

 

Uganda’s Anti-Gay Campaigners Celebrate New Law, Gay Community Plans Legal Rebuttal

Anti-gay campaigners celebrated at the national theatre in Uganda’s capital, Kampala on Monday (February 24) after President Yoweri Museveni signed into a law, a bill that imposes harsh penalties for homosexuality.

Pastor Martin Ssempa a long-time campaigner against homosexuality spoke to a crowd gathered for a weekly musical performance at the theatre as his supporters cheered and the band played.

“Somebody go tell Barack Obama Africa says no, Africa says no to Sodomy, we only know one way to love – a man marrying a woman. I am going to make one announcement here, if there is anyone who has been ruptured because of homosexuality, am setting up a clinic for repairing rectums, we are going to put up a redemption centre, if a boy thinks he is a girl, if a girl thinks she is a man, we want to help you so you want to get my address, we want to pray for you, we want to help you out because you know, every woman needs a man and every man needs a woman,” he said.

Uganda’s President signed the law, defying protests from rights groups, criticism from Western donors and a U.S. warning that it would complicate relations.

The new bill strengthened existing punishments for anyone caught having gay sex, imposing jail terms of up to life for “aggravated homosexuality” – including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.

It criminalised lesbianism for the first time and made it a crime to help individuals engage in homosexual acts.

Gay and lesbian organisations fear the bill would encourage other governments to strengthen penalties, increase harassment, discourage people from taking HIV tests and make it impossible to live an openly gay life.

Gay rights activists in Uganda said they planned a legal challenge. Spokesperson for Uganda’s Gay and Lesbian community, Julia Pepe Onziema said that they would study the final draft of the bill carefully before presenting a petition.

“Clause by clause, article by article, we are going to definitely make a case, we already have papers prepared but we are going to have to look through again because the final copy that the President signed today, we haven’t had a chance to look at,” said Onziema.

“For my community, the moment parliament passed it, they were like we are dead, we cannot be here so people started leaving one by one and they are seeking asylum in different countries in East African countries and African countries that are legal for them to be who they are and also Europe and the Americas, in terms of numbers at least by today, there are thirteen people who have left,” she added.

Homosexuality is taboo in almost all African countries and illegal in 37 – including Uganda, where rights groups say gay people have long risked jail. Fear of violence, imprisonment and loss of jobs means few gays in Africa come out.

Western donors immediately criticised Uganda. Norway and Denmark said they were withholding or diverting aid money and Austria said it was reviewing assistance. Britain condemned the new law but did not mention aid cuts.

On the streets of Kampala, residents expressed widespread support but there was local criticism of the law on social media with some saying Uganda had bigger problems.

“The President to sign the anti-homosexuality bill was extremely good because all Ugandans decided not to adopt that homosexual behaviour; it was actually extremely very bad for Ugandans to adopt that. All Ugandans are happy about that,” said Richard Byarugaba, a Kampala resident.

The legislation exposes the wide gulf between the continent’s often culturally conservative administrations and many of the foreign donor states that support them. Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh last week called homosexuals “vermin”.

While African leaders broadly court Western donors with promises to tackle human rights abuses, many have won popular support by describing homosexuality as “un-African” behaviour.

The Uganda’s move should please conservative voters ahead of presidential elections scheduled for 2016.

In neighbouring Kenya, a group of MPs has called for the enforcement of existing anti-gay laws that have been largely ignored. Some Kenyans praised Uganda’s actions.

U.S. Justices Take Up Gay Marriage For The First Time

America’s top court takes up the delicate and divisive issue of gay marriage on Tuesday when the nine Supreme Court justices consider the legality of a California ballot initiative that limits marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Tuesday will be the first of two days of oral arguments on the issue. On Wednesday, the court will consider the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which limits the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Rulings in both cases are expected by the end of June.

In what is scheduled to be about three hours of deliberations with lawyers over the two days, the justices will have their say on what gay activists see as a key civil rights issue reminiscent of famous Supreme Court cases of the past, including Loving v. Virginia, a 1967 case in which the court invalidated bans on interracial marriage.

The cases come before the high court at a time when more states have legalized gay marriage. Last year three more – Maryland, Maine and Washington – did so, bringing the total to nine plus the District of Columbia.

“Never before in our history has a major civil rights issue landed on the doorstep of the Supreme Court with this wave of public support,” said Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for opponents of the California initiative, which is known as Proposition 8.

Strong opposition to gay marriage still exists, however, both among Republicans in Congress and in many states across the nation. A total of 30 states, including California, have constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage. Nine states, including California, recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships among same-sex couples.

Advocates for both sides plan to demonstrate outside the multi-columned Washington courthouse. Those who plan to attend include Chief Justice John Roberts’ cousin Jean Podrasky, a lesbian from California who would like to marry her partner.

“There’s no fundamental right to same sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution,” said Austin Nimocks, a member of the legal team arguing in support of the California law.

Some legal experts think that with the issue unsettled in the states, a majority of the justices might not be inclined to make any sweeping pronouncements on the issue as the democratic process plays out.

Multiple Options

There are various ways in which they could do that as the Proposition 8 case presents the justices with multiple options.

The justices could proclaim that gay marriage bans are constitutionally unsound. They could uphold Proposition 8 as a law with a legitimate purpose that was approved by a majority of voters in California. They could also plot a middle path by striking down the law without making any broad pronouncements about whether gay marriage bans in other states that have them should be struck down.

Another way the court could rule might be viewed as an anticlimax of sorts: The justices could simply decide that it cannot rule on the merits because of the procedural complexities that brought the case to the high court.

The state of California declined to support Proposition 8 when the plaintiffs filed suit in 2009 in a federal district court in San Francisco, meaning there was no party defending the law until its proponents entered the case. The federal judge struck the law down, a ruling that was upheld by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A Supreme Court decision concluding that the law’s backers do not have legal standing to defend the law would wipe out the appeals court decision, but leave the district court decision that struck down Proposition 8 on the books.

The way the justices rule could depend in large part on the likely swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy. Although a conservative appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Kennedy has in the past authored two opinions that expanded gay rights.

Lawyers representing two same-sex couples in California who want to marry are hoping the justices will go big and are making the most sweeping arguments.

The counsel for Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo will argue that under the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantee, there is a fundamental right for people to marry someone of the same sex.

Kris Perry, who has raised four children with her partner, Sandy Stier, was hopeful and optimistic.

“We have been waiting for a long time to get married,” she said last week. “We are very excited to have the end in sight.”

Homosexuality Remains Banned In Nigeria – David Mark

Despite pressures from some sections of the international community and Human rights activists demanding the legalization of same sex marriage in Nigeria, the Senate President, David Mark has insisted that the bill prohibiting same sex marriage is irrevocable.

In a statement signed by the chief press secretary to the senate president, Paul Mumeh, Mr Mark noted that besides banning same sex marriage, it is now a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment of not less than 14 years.

The senate president said that in spite of pressures from some quarters, the law has come to stay.

He further said the government has to prove to the rest of the world, who are advocates of same sex marriage that Nigerians promote and respect sanity, morality and humanity.

Malawi may be first African country to legalise homosexuality

Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda has said she wants her country to overturn its ban on homosexual acts – the first African country to do so since 1994.

Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda

Two Malawian men were sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2010 after saying they were getting married.

Several Western leaders have recently said they would cut aid to countries which did not recognise gay rights.

Mrs Banda, who came to power in April on the death of her predecessor, said in her first state of the nation address on Friday: “Indecency and unnatural acts laws shall be repealed.” She described the measure as a matter of urgency.

She further said her government wanted to normalise relations with “our traditional development partners who were uncomfortable with our bad laws”.

But repealing a law requires a parliamentary vote and, although Banda’s party commands a majority, it is unclear how much support the move would have in this socially conservative nation.

Malawi was widely condemned for the conviction and 14-year prison sentences given in 2010 to two men who were arrested after celebrating their engagement and were charged with unnatural acts and gross indecency.

The former president, Bingu wa Mutharika had pardoned the couple on “humanitarian grounds only”, while claiming they had “committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws”.

The Senate had last year taken a strong stand against same sex marriage in Nigeria.

Debate over same sex marriage is growing across the world. While some countries have legalised it, others are considering adopting it and few conservatives have taken similar strong stands against it.

“We as a country need to act very fast for this trend not to find its way into our country,” Domingo Obende, had said while moving the motion against same sex marriage last September.

“Same sex marriage cannot be allowed on moral and religious grounds. The Muslim religion forbids it. Christianity forbids it and the African traditional religion forbids it. It should not be allowed because it will lead to a breakdown of the society,” Mr Obende said.

The United States’ State Department and 16 international human rights groups had strongly condemned the bill, calling it a violation of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly guaranteed by international law as well as by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and a barrier to the struggle against the spread of AIDS.

Cameroon men appeal five-year jail sentence for gay sex

Two Cameroonian men sentenced to five years in prison for engaging in gay sex were jeered by a disapproving crowd when they appeared in court for their appeal hearing, the AFP reported.

According to the reports, lawyer for the convicted couple, identified as Jonas and Franky, have called on the courts to repeal the sentencing and release the men.

“They will present guarantees to assure you that they will respond regularly to summons from the court,” Michel Togue said at the appeals court in Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital.

A crowd outside the court booed the men as they were driven back to their prison cells.

“There is prejudice here,” the lawyer said.

Like many African countries, Cameroon is largely homophobic, and the law stipulates and individuals guilty of engaging in same-sex relationships be sentenced to five years in prison and fined.

According to reports, both Jonas and Franky and a third man were sentenced to five years in Jail last November and ordered to pay a 300 euro fine.

The third man did not appeal his sentencing. The judge adjourned the case to April 20 to consider the call for their release.