A step backward: Chad votes to make homosexuality illegal


chad-votes-to-make-homosexuality-illegalIn a regressive step, Chad has decided to criminalise homosexuality for the first time; adding to Africa’s homophobia hall of shame.

Last week, the country’s lawmakers approved revisions to the penal code. Some changes were positive, including abolishing the death penalty (except in cases of terrorism) and raising the age at which people can marry from 16 to 18.

Others, such as making sexual conduct between members of the same sex illegal, are less welcome. The penalties for homosexuality, however, are less severe than when the revisions were first suggested in 2014; which included 15 years in prison.

Instead, under the new code, those found guilty will be punished by a fine or a suspended prison sentence. President Idriss Déby is expected to sign the legislation into law.

“Homosexuality is condemned by all religions. We do not have to forgive something that God himself rejects because Westerners have said this or that…” Former Prime Minister Delwa Kassiré Coumakoye was quoted as saying about the changes to the law.

“The current provision of the penal code is a fair balance between conservative public opinion and an uncompromising international community on the protection of minorities,” he added.

Minister of Justice Hamid Dahalob said: “This penal code is modern; it takes account of our customs and also our international commitments.”

After the Seychelles and Mozambique recently decriminalised homosexuality, Chad’s move is a blow to progress in the area of LGBT equality on the continent. Homosexuality is now illegal in around 34 countries in Africa.

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