While the world has focused on Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill, LGBT activists in the DRC are facing their own anti-gay legislation.

Tabled in October 2010 by MP and Pentecostal Bishop Ejiba Yamapiale, The Sexual Practices Against Nature Bill will align homosexuality with bestiality.

If passed, the bill will impose fines as well as prison sentences of up to five years on those found guilty of consensual same-sex sex.

Despite being promised international financial support, activists in the country have told Behind the Mask that they still lack the funds to combat the legislation, which will most likely be debated in parliament in June.

“We have planned many actions with human rights and civil society organisations. Unfortunately we never received the funds and we have not heard from them and as a result we could not undertake any action,” said Jean Bedel Kaniki of Hirondelles Bukavu, an LGBTI organisation in the DRC.

The proposed bill will also criminalise any activities that promote or defend the rights of LGBTI persons, including publications, films, posters or pamphlets.

“If nothing is done, considering the support the bill has received in the public opinion, the parliament will probably pass the law that criminalises homosexuality. Elections are around the corner; therefore the vote of the parliament will depend on the role that law could play in political campaign and calculation,” Kaniki said.

Homosexuality is currently legal in the DRC. The country is the 12th largest country in the world and, with a population of nearly 71 million people, is the fourth most populous nation in Africa.

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