Finally, freedom! It’s officially legal to be gay in Angola

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Photo: Associação Íris Angola / Facebook

The 134-year-old colonial-era ban on homosexuality in Angola is no more after the country’s revised penal code came into effect this week.

The new Penal Code and Penal Procedure Code will no longer criminalise “vices against nature”, which is widely understood to refer to gay and lesbian sexuality.

Although the 1886 ban had not been used by the state to prosecute LGBTQ people in recent times, the development is a landmark statement against homophobia in Angola and the rest of Africa.

In addition, new legislation also provides more protection for LGBTQ people by outlawing discrimination and prosecution based on sexuality and gender identity.

This includes threats made on the basis of “race, colour, ethnicity, place of birth, sex, sexual orientation, illness or physical or mental disability, belief or religion, political or ideological convictions, condition or social origin or any other forms of discrimination.”

Carlos Fernandes, the head of local LGBTQ rights group Associacao Iris Angola, welcomed the new protections. He told DQ that while much work remains, the law now at least provides “a legal framework to go after homophobic crimes.”

Richard Lusimbo, Programme Manager at PanAfrica ILGA, wrote on Twitter: “Thanks Angola for taking a huge step in protecting and promoting the rights of the LGBT community in your country. Africa and the world have a lot to learn from you.”

The first draft of the new penal code was approved in January 2019 but the final version was only published late last year.

According to Jornal de Angola, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Francisco Queiroz commented at the time that the new code “is another step in the consolidation of national sovereignty”.

He asserted that it was time that “Angola stops using inherited laws from the colonial administration and starts to use a Penal Code inspired by its political, legal and social reality”.

Queiroz added that the new code “is based on the dignity of the human person” and “is aligned with the most modern solutions at the international level”.

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