The international LGBT human rights movement would do well to ask why Rwanda and Uganda, the U.S.A.'s closest allies in Africa, are so close to passing the harshest anti-gay legislation in Africa.
“Any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex to sexual relations or any sexual practice, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment ranging from five to ten years and a fine ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000 Rwanda Francs.”
Interim Rwanda Green Party leader Frank Habineza forwarded this report, from the state run Rwanda News Agency (RNA):
Rwanda Parliament, Kigali, Rwanda
Rwanda’s Civil Society Protests Anti-Gay Law
BY GODWIN AGABA
Monday, 23 November 2009
The Civil Society Coalition in Rwanda has submitted a concept paper to the Rwanda national parliament with their position on the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bi- sexual, Trans-gender and Inter-sexual ( LGBTTI ) rights and protection of sexual minorities.
According to their press release, the safety and freedoms of LGBTTI as well as sex workers in Rwanda are seriously undermined. The civil society coalition demands that the penal code be promulgated in its current draft form.
The newly proposed article 217 provides that, “Any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex to sexual relations or any sexual practice, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment ranging from five to ten years and a fine ranging from two 200, 000 to 1,000,000 Rwanda Francs.”
Article 221 on sex workers stipulates, “Any person who practices the profession of prostitution shall be liable for a term of imprisonment ranging from six months to three years and a fine ranging from fifty thousands to five hundred thousand Rwanda Francs.”
”In Rwanda, sex workers are a direct consequence of the social-economic dynamics of our country. They deserve protection and special care, not be criminalized,” Aimable Mwananawe, the chairman of Rwanda NGO forum and a member of the coalition told 256news.com on the sidelines of the press conference.
According to the press release from the coalition, a pragmatic way of dealing with the sex worker issue has been and will continue to be “to identify them, gather them into cooperatives and other organized groupings for targeted treatment, vocational training and income generating activities but criminalizing them will be counterproductive to achieving these outcomes and would be contrary to human rights as articulated in the Rwanda Constitution and in the international human rights instruments to which Rwanda is signatory.”
The coalition requested the support of all stakeholders including the media to ensure that the Rwandan government upholds its Constitutional commitment to ensure equality before the law of all citizens.
At the press conference, two girls and a boy shocked journalists when they confessed that they promote and they are lesbians and homos.
The press conference was organized by the Rwanda NGO forum with the aim of supporting the decriminalization of LBGTs and sex work in the draft penal code.
In Uganda, a tougher anti-gay Bill is now in parliament which stipulates harsh penalties like death and life imprisonment for certain offences related to homosexuality.