Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
Penal Code 2009, Article 567 Same-Sex Sexual Relations

Article 567 criminalises same-sex sexual relations with a penalty of up to two years imprisonment and a fine. This provision is applicable to sexual relations between men and between women.1



The US Department of State Human Rights Report for Burundi states that “there were no reports of prosecution for same-sex sexual acts during the year. There were cases, however, of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and demands for bribes by police officers and members of the Imbonerakure targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals.”


On 23 September, it was reported that a Vietnamese man had been arrested in Burundi after being caught having sex with his partner. Richard Nzokirantevye, Governor of Karuzi, said: “The attorney-general has decided to accelerate the process and therefore this case should go before Karuzi Court of First Instance by tomorrow.”

In May, a report by Burundian organisation Mouvement pour les Libertés Individuelles highlights a number of occasions on which LGBT individuals have been arrested. Newspaper reports and personal accounts of individuals from the country similarly suggest a number of arrests occurring since the passage of the Penal Code amendment. However, no reports seem to suggest any successful prosecutions under the country’s law.

Statements by Public Figures


A Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board report  includes a translated quote from the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, referring to LGBT individuals: “[G]iven the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi, our culture, the position of various African countries, not to mention the Holy Scriptures, we cannot allow homosexuality to be legally practised in Burundi”.

We cannot allow homosexuality to be legally practised in Burundi.

Pierre Nkurunziza, President


In May, Britain’s former International Development minister, Ivan Lewis, criticised Burundi’s decision to criminalise consensual same-sex sex, stating: “I have raised with the President the UK’s concerns about the new penal code which criminalises gay sex… The UK government has made it clear to the President and the government of Burundi that this legislation is unacceptable and should be repealed as a matter of urgency”.

Persecution and Discrimination


In October, the police in Burundi announced the “hunt for homosexuals”. This announcement came after several LGBT persons, including teenagers, were arrested and forced to pay extortionate bribes for their freedom.


A report released in May indicates a large degree of societal discrimination in Burundi.


With regard to human rights defenders in the country, a report of the Canadian Asylum and Immigration Tribunal includes an interview with the Executive Director of the Mouvement pour les Libertés Individuelles, who stated: “In general, the authorities have not taken direct or indirect action against activists for LGBTQ rights. However, cases have been reported in which heterosexual activists have been subjected to verbal abuse (mockery, insults, etc.) in their family, social (neighbourhood and even church/mosque) and academic environment”. Despite this, the Canadian report also references a number of occasions where members of LGBT groups were interviewed and detained by local police.

Legislative News


During its third UPR cycle, Burundi received recommendations concerning the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex activities between adults and the need to protect and prevent discrimination against LGBT persons. Such recommendations were noted.


During its second UPR cycle, Burundi rejected recommendations to remove those penal provisions that criminalise consensual same-sex conduct.


In June, the Minister of Education introduced an ordinance which imposes a punishment of one year’s suspension from school for pupils found guilty of “homosexuality”.


In April, Burundi criminalised consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults for the first time in its history. According to one report, prior to the Bill’s amendment, many senators were against the provision but succumbed to pressure from religious groups.

1. Penal Code 2009, Article 567 Same-Sex Sexual Relations

“Whoever has sexual relations with someone of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment for three months to two years and a fine of fifty thousand to one hundred thousand francs or one of those penalties.” Full text.

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