Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises LGBT people
  • Criminalises sexual activity between males
  • Criminalises sexual activity between females

Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 2015, which criminalises ‘immodest or unnatural acts’. This provision carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine. Both men and women are criminalised under this law.

In 1960, Eastern Togo officially gained independence from France, which had long since decriminalised same-sex sexual activity. As such the criminalising law is of local origin, having been present in the 1980 Penal Code and maintained in the 2015 Penal Code.

There is limited evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, with LGBT people being occasionally subject to arrest, though reports suggest that they are often arrested and charged under offences other than the same-sex sexual activity provision. There is some evidence of discrimination and violence against LGBT people in Togo in recent years, however the real situation is likely more severe and unknown due to a lack of reporting.



In May, the TikTok influencer Bobo Périta, known for cross-dressing on social media, was arrested by the national police on charges of ‘affront to public decency’. He was charged and reportedly convicted on 1 June, and he is reportedly beingheld in the civil prison of Lomé.


The US Department of State report noted that although LGBT people were arrested, it was rarely specifically under article 392, but usually under another legal provision, for instance as a ‘shameless or unnatural act’. Prosecutions of same-sex sexual activity were often not pursued subsequent to arrest. 


In August, the concluding observations on Togo’s fifth periodic report by UN Human Rights Committee noted that there had been reports of security forces subjecting people to harassment, attacks, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention on the basis of their actual or presumed sexual orientation or gender identity. 


The US Department of State report noted that the law was not enforced. Although there were occasions when police arrested someone for engaging in same-sex sexual activity, the justification was usually on another legal infraction, such as disturbing the peace or public urination.


An article published in January quoted a transgender woman who recounted a story of two transgender friends being arrested and detained for three days on the basis of the clothes they were wearing. They were only released upon paying a fee to authorities. Another trans person was arrested by a patrol and taken to her family in order to forcibly reveal her identity to them.


It was reported that a gay man who was on his way home from a party wearing female clothing was arrested and detained without charge for five days in a police station. The police officers forced him to take off his clothing, insulted him, and took videos and photographs and threatened to leak the images to the press if he did not comply with their instructions, which included forcing him to dance in front of the other detainees and officers. He was released without charge after five days.


The US Department of State report noted that a Ghanaian man was arrested during the year for same-sex sexual activity, however the judge, wanting to avoid public attention, charged the man with ‘disrupting public order’.


It was reported that eight people were arrested for same-sex sexual activity in 2010.

Discrimination and Violence


In April, a group of gay men were beaten up and chased out of the beach of Lomé by a mob of angry youth for displaying “effeminate” behaviour. Media and social media widely reported on the attack, leading to anti-LGBT statements and threats from government officials and the public.  

Abotsi Ablamvi, one of the men assaulted at Lomé beach, went missing after the incident and, according to his family, had not been heard from as of April 2023. His family reported that he had been receiving death threats and had been regularly harassed in the streets. 

In May, a presumed gay man was striped naked and beaten up by a group of unknown assailants who later shared a video of their assault on social media.


A report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee in July noted that local LGBT organisations documented 37 instances of violence and abuse in 2017, 42 in 2018, 35 in 2019, 33 in 2020 and around 10 between January and June 2021. 

A report by OpenDemocracy sets out that LGBT people also face harassment online. 


According to the US Department of State report, LGBT people face societal discrimination in employment, housing, education, and healthcare. Activists reported that violence against LGBT people was common, but police ignored complaints. Furthermore, a media code is in place that prevents the ‘promotion of immorality’ which includes same-sex sexual activity.


An article published in January notes that the LGBT community face discrimination and violence, but are afraid to report incidents to police due to fear of reprisals.


Local Organisations

Related Countries


Ghana criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men. Sentences include a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.


Nigeria criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. The gender expression of trans people is also criminalised. Sentences include a maximum penalty of death by stoning.


Cameroon criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a fine.

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