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Angola hailed for discarding colonial law that frowns on homosexuality

January 24, 2019 at 09:08 am | News

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor | Staff Writer

January 24, 2019 at 09:08 am | News

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned in Angola. Pic credit: BBC

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Angola and across the world are full of smiles after the country adopted a new penal code that decriminalizes homosexuality.

The oil-rich southern African country, this month, shed the divisive “vices against nature” provision in its law, widely interpreted to be a ban on homosexual conduct, reports Human Rights Watch.

Angola does not have any anti-LGBT laws but members of the community complain of discrimination in accessing services in health and education. With the changes made, the government has prohibited discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

“And so anyone refusing to employ or provide services to individuals based on their sexual orientation may face up to two years in prison,” the Human Rights Watch report said.

The changes were made on January 23 when Angola’s parliament adopted its first new penal code since it gained independence in 1975 and removed the “vices against nature” provision that it inherited from its Portuguese colonizers.

There have been no known prosecutions under the law, but the “vices against nature” provision tends to place the lives of LGBT people in Angola under scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the adoption of the new penal law comes after the country, last year, gave legal status to Iris Angola, the country’s only formal gay rights lobby group.

This was a major breakthrough for the LGBT association which was founded in 2013 and has since been defending the rights of sexual minorities in Angola.

Although some African countries are slowly accepting same-sex marriages, many are still very categorical in their denunciation of the idea. Some have even made it a capital offence punishable by death – Mauritania, Sudan, southern Somalia and northern Nigeria.

Many members of the LGBT community in these countries have been forced to hide their sexuality while others have fled their homes for fear of being attacked.

In Uganda, for instance, same-sex relationships have been illegal since British colonial rule, and in neighbouring Tanzania, the situation is no different.

As political landscapes continue to change across the continent, new ideologies are slowly taking shape and societies are becoming more accepting as far as embracing same-sex relationships is concerned.

In Kenya for instance, a court in 2015 ruled in favour of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission – a non-governmental organization supporting the LGBT community – which had moved to court compel the Kenyan government to recognize it as a legal entity. In its ruling, the court argued that refusing to register the commission was an infringement of the right of association for gay people.

In Uganda, the controversial 2014 law criminalizing homosexuality has since been overturned, although the constitution still doesn’t recognize same-sex relationships.

In South Africa, LGBT people enjoy constitutional and statutory protection from discrimination at work, school, and places of worship, as well as in provision of goods and services.

A world map released by Australian insurance company Travel Insurance Direct in March 2018 identified countries and territories according to how tolerant national attitudes were towards LBGTI couples.

The map is shaded from red to purple which respectively indicates countries with illegal or intolerant attitudes towards homosexuality and countries where same-sex marriage has been legalised.

Homosexuality is illegal in these countries:

Algeria
Libya
Egypt
Sudan
Ethiopia
Ghana
Togo
Nigeria
Morocco
Somalia
Kenya
Tanzania
Mauritania
Tunisia
Guinea
Sierra Leone
The Gambia
Liberia
Cameroon
Chad
Eritrea
South Sudan
Uganda
Malawi
Zambia
Namibia
Botswana
Swaziland
Zimbabwe

In these countries, there is no law against homosexuality but there is high intolerance:

Mali
Niger
Burkina Faso
Côte d’Ivoire
Benin
Gabon
Congo
DR Congo
Central African Republic
Madagascar
Djibouti
Angola

In these countries homosexuality is legal but there are no other protections:

Guinea-Bissau
Equatorial Guinea
Lesotho
Mozambique
Rwanda

Same-sex marriage is allowed in this country:

South Africa

Here are some social media reactions after the penal code was discarded in Angola for a new LGBT-friendly one. 

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