Homosexuality has generally been considered illegal in Mozambique, but the country’s justice minister, Benvinda Levi, has denied that it is.

According to Levi, homosexuality is not a criminal offence in the African nation.

She made the statement while speaking in Geneva last month during the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Mozambique’s human rights record.

“…one cannot say that homosexuality is expressly forbidden in Mozambique,” the justice ministry said in supporting documents.

“Prohibition or acceptance is a subjective matter for each of the citizens in society. The sexual orientation in question – gays, lesbians and transsexuals – is a recent phenomenon in our society and thus the decision is very complex”.

“The change of mentality and the acceptance of new habits and customs should be gradually introduced until we reach the point where people no longer think that particular behaviours are strange, the point where being gay or lesbian is normal,” said the document.

The justice ministry added that at the moment “society has not shown that it is prepared to accept other kinds of sexual orientation”.

The ministry’s assertion that homosexuality is not prohibited in the country has been welcomed by the Mozambican Association for the Defence of Sexual Minorities (LAMBDA).

The group, however, expressed concern that Article 71 of the Penal Code which criminalised “vices against nature” – with penalties including hard labour and commitment to psychiatric institutions – could still be used against the LGBT community.

The penal code was inherited from the country’s former Portuguese colonial rulers.

The organisation noted that the ambiguous law could mean that the justice ministry’s stance could change when someone takes over Levi’s position and that some judges and prosecutors could still see “vices against nature” as including homosexually.

LAMBDA wants sexual orientation to be specifically included in country’s constitution, which affirms the equality of all people, to ensure that there is no ambiguity through which to oppress LGBT people.

The organisation noted that it has encountered official homophobia in its attempts to be registered as an NGO and remains unregistered despite applying in January 2008.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend