Gabon’s Senate today voted in favour of reversing a 2019 ban on adult, consensual sexual activity between men and between women. The move follows a decision last week from the lower house to decriminalise homosexuality. The Senate’s decision will shortly be ratified by the President Ali Bongo.

‘Today’s decision is a hugely welcome move,’ says Victoria Vasey, HDTs Head of Legal. ‘There is a clear global trend for reform in favour of the human rights of LGBT people, and in making this progressive move Gabon now joins African states such as Seychelles, Angola, Mozambique and Botswana which have chosen to rid their lawbooks of provisions which enable discrimination, violence and harassment against LGBT people.’

Article 402(5) of the central African country’s Penal Code criminalised adult, consensual, same-sex activity, with a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to five million FCFA (£8,433). The law was applicable to both men and women. It was only introduced in 2019 and reportedly has never been enforced.

Gabon is one of 88 member states and governments who make up the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), and has a mixed legal system based on local customary law and French civil law, the latter of which, unlike the British colonial system, did not export laws criminalising sexual orientation.

Today’s decision means that there are now 72 remaining jurisdictions around the world which criminalise adult, consensual, same-sex relations. This number has declined dramatically in recent decades, through a mix of legislative reform and court judgments.

Almost half of all criminalising countries are on the African continent, many of which are members of the Commonwealth.

Notes to editors

  • The Human Dignity Trust works with LGBT activists around the world to defend human rights in countries where private consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex is criminalised. With pro bono assistance from the international legal community, we support local organisations that are challenging laws that persecute people on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Visit the Trust’s interactive map to see which countries across the world still criminalise LGBT people.

For more information contact:

Emma Eastwood, Head of Strategic Communications, HDT

T: +44 (0)20 7419 3770 / E: emmaeastwood@humandignitytrust.org / Twitter: @HumanDignityT

 

 

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