Censors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have taken a stance against LGBTQ+ rights by issuing warnings to media outlets regarding the broadcasting of LGBTQ+ content.
The DRC’s Higher Council for Audiovisual and Communication (HCAC) released a statement on June 19th, referring to the controversy around a recent incident at a mining conference in Lubumbashi where attendees received rainbow gift bags.
Monitoring Content and Suppressing LGBTQ+ Visibility
The HCAC claims authority in monitoring all content broadcast in the DRC, citing the protection of children and morality as their mandate.
The council explicitly labelled homosexuality and lesbianism as “degrading and unconstitutional practices,” urging media organisations not to contribute to what they termed a “shameful campaign” in the media.
Despite homosexuality not being criminalised in the DRC, the council warned that failure to comply with their directive would result in legal consequences for media outlets.
A Disturbing Trend in the Region
This move by the HCAC aligns with a growing wave of intolerance towards LGBTQ+ individuals in its neighbour Uganda, as well as in Kenya and Cameroon.
Uganda recently enacted the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposes severe penalties, including imprisonment for individuals, and fines and suspension of licenses for media outlets found guilty of “promoting” homosexuality.
The National Communication Council of Cameroon has also expressed concern about the perceived proliferation of programs “promoting” homosexuality, stating that they undermine good morals, customs, and national legislation. It warned that severe penalties await those who do not comply.
Censorship in Effect: DStv and Netflix Compliance
The impact of such legislation is already being felt, as South African-based satellite TV service DStv has confirmed that it will comply with Ugandan law and refrain from broadcasting any LGBTQ+ content in the country.
Netflix has also faced pressure in Kenya, reportedly agreeing to censor its LGBTQ+ content following an agreement with the Kenya Film Classification Board to block such content from being shown.
The actions of the DRC’s censors, along with similar instances in other African countries, highlight the urgent need for the protection of human rights and freedom of expression for LGBTQ+ individuals on the continent.