Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
Penal Code 1981, Article 318 Unnatural Acts

Article 318 criminalises “improper or unnatural” acts between persons of the same-sex with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a fine. Acts between men and between women are penalised under this provision.1

Enforcement

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Comoros states that the authorities did not enforce the law during the year. There were no reports of arrests or prosecutions of LGBT persons.

2013

A submission of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to Comoros’ UPR found no examples of prosecution of LGBT persons under the country’s anti-gay laws in 2012.

2009

During its first UPR cycle, the Comoros delegation claimed that there had never been any prosecutions of consenting adult homosexuals.

Statements by Public Figures

2014

In his closing speech at the second UPR cycle, the head of the Comoros delegation, Abdou Ousseni, emphasised the “inalienable” rights of LGBT individuals, but could not accept recommendations for change, stating a lack of political majority in the Comoros National Assembly: “As regards sexual orientation, I understand the concerns that have been raised, and clearly, the rights of LGBT are inalienable. However, in Comoros we do not have a criminal policy against such sexual orientations. Simply we do not have political majority in the national assembly to amend the criminal code. If that did exist, it would be done. We do not note a visible minority of LGBT in the Comoros, which is another reason why there is no criminal policy on that.”

As regards sexual orientation, I understand the concerns that have been raised, and clearly, the rights of LGBT are inalienable. However, in Comoros we do not have a criminal policy against such sexual orientations. Simply we do not have political majority in the national assembly to amend the criminal code.

Abdou Ousseni, Head of Comoros UPR Delegation

2009

During its first UPR cycle, the Comoros delegation rejected recommendations to decriminalise homosexuality, stating: “We were also told about imprisonment of homosexuals. As I said at the outset, how can we reconcile freedom of homosexuality in our country, which is 100 percent Muslim? It’s not at all easy for homosexuality to be expressed as visibly, when we have such a different view. I think it’s a question of evolution. It’s too early to have homosexuality recognised as it is in many countries. It exists. We know it exists. It’s a taboo. But if there’s a complaint brought – there may be some complaints brought about abuse of children. There have been abuses of minors, which led to a conviction. But homosexuality amongst adults is something I cannot pronounce myself on.”

It’s not at all easy for homosexuality to be expressed as visibly, when we have such a different view. I think it’s a question of evolution. It’s too early to have homosexuality recognised as it is in many countries. It exists. We know it exists. It’s a taboo.

Comoros UPR Delegation

In its closing remarks on its first UPR cycle, the Comoros delegation stated: “I would like to focus more on the international organisations’ statements, the statement made by the International Lesbian and Gay Association. Developments of the world are not equal. It’s not that the Comoros does not wish homosexuals to exist, far from it. For the Comoros, as I have said, and as I repeat, there have never been any prosecutions of consenting adult homosexuals. Yet they ask that our Penal Code provision, Article 318, be reformed, but I think that we have to realise that time is needed to make changes, because it is difficult to have certain provisions respected despite tolerance on the part of the people of Comoros towards lesbians and gays. So in my statement, I can only welcome and express my pleasure concerning what has been stated. Since our 30 years of independence we want to make human rights a reality in the Comoros.”

Persecution and Discrimination

2013

Very little information on the situation of LGBT individuals can be gathered from English speaking news sources on Comoros. The 2013 US Department of State Human Rights Report on Comoros found that LGBT individuals often hid their sexual identity as a result of societal discrimination.

Legislative News

2014

During its second UPR cycle, Comoros rejected recommendations to decriminalise same-sex sexual acts committed by consenting adults, stating that there was not a political majority sufficient to alter the countries laws.

2009

In its first UPR cycle, Comoros rejected recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts.

Footnotes
1. Penal Code 1981, Article 318 Unnatural Acts

“(3) Without prejudice to the more serious penalties provided for in the preceding paragraphs or by articles 320 and 321 of this Code, whoever will have committed an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex will be punished by imprisonment of between one and five years and by a fine of 50,000 to 1,000,000 francs.” Full text.

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