Burundi | Crackdown on LGBTQ community

There are reports that a number of individuals have been detained in Burundi on charges related to homosexuality and that the authorities are cracking down further on LGBTQ people.

According to GSN, on 4 October, seven people were arrested at a Kamenge youth commune in the East African country, including two individuals who are under the age of 18.

It’s believed that they were targeted after police saw photos and videos of the men dancing with each other.

There are claims that officers have demanded exorbitant bribes to release those arrested, most of whom cannot afford them.

Two days later, the police announced they would “hunt down and fight” people who engage in homosexuality, reported Belgian-Burundian journalist Bakari Ubena on Twitter.

He told GSN: “The reason is just they are gay, and the government says it is against Burundian culture. Gay people must have a hidden life. LGBT associations have been closed by police.”

Unlike most other African countries that have anti-LGBTQ laws originating from the colonial era, sexual relations with persons of the same sex were only made illegal in Burundi in 2009. Those found guilty face up to two years in prison and a fine.

Same-sex marriage is also illegal under the Burundi constitution and there are no legal protections from discrimination.

Burundi was one of 13 countries to recently vote against a UN human rights resolution condemning the execution of people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

It is also one of the 33 countries in Africa that continue to criminalise LGBTQ people in some form because of their sexual behaviour or gender identity.

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