Lambda supporters wear t-shirts calling for the registration of their organisation (Pic: Lambda)
In positive but sadly unusual news in Africa, Mozambique has become one of a minority of countries on the continent that do not outlaw gays and lesbians.
On Monday, the country’s new penal code came into effect, removing articles in the previous penal code that allowed for “security measures” against people “who habitually engage in vices against nature.”
The new code was signed into law in December.
Under the colonial era prohibition, those found guilty of engaging in gay sex could have been jailed for up to three years, although this had not been enforced for decades.
Earlier this month, Mozambican LGBTI rights organisation Lambda welcomed the move as “a victory” but said more needed to be done.
While discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment is explicitly prohibited, the group told Mambaonline that it wants this to be made law in all areas of life.
Same-sex relationships also have no legal recognition or protections. In addition, after almost eight years since first applying, the government has still refused to register Lambda as an NGO.
The UN has called on the authorities to register “NGOs working on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity…” but this has been ignored.
“The new penal code is a victory,” said the group’s Danilo Da Silva, “but it tastes sour. The government must guarantee the rights of every citizen. We are disappointed that it’s not happening.”
Thirty-three of Africa’s 54 nations have laws that allow for the jailing of gay people and four (Mauritania, Sudan and parts of Nigeria and Somalia) allow for the death penalty.