Gabon parliament votes to decriminalise homosexuality

A vote to decriminalise homosexual activity has passed the Senate in the African nation of Gabon, with an overwhelming 59 votes in favour, 17 against and 4 abstaining.

The Senate vote follows a successful lower house vote on the legislation back in June, ending a short-lived ban on same-gender relations enacted just last year.

Unlike many nations around the world, Gabon’s anti-homosexual laws were not rooted in the colonial era, but passed through parliament in 2019 after vocal anti-LGBTIQ+ sentiment from religious leaders and conservative groups. The reversal of the ban has seen much backlash from these same groups, driving LGBTIQ+ advocates and community members into hiding.

“We commend both Houses of Parliament of Gabon on repealing a ban on same-sex relations. It is shocking that over a third of the world’s countries continue to criminalize same-sex love, in stark contrast to basic human dignity and international human rights standards,” says Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International.

“The decision in Gabon decreases the total number of countries criminalizing same-sex relations by one. This is not only an affirmation of the right of LGBTIQ people in Gabon to love whom they choose, but also an inspiration to activists in countries in which these bans still exist or are being considered. We hope to see authorities in Gabon take steps to reduce hate speech and promote acceptance of its LGBTIQ citizens.”

Stern highlights that there are still 67 nations around the world who still criminalise same-gender relations, while Egypt, Indonesia and Equatorial Guinea are considering new anti-LGBTIQ+ laws.

In 2019, Kenya’s High Court voted to maintain a colonial era ban, while Singapore’s High Court dismissed challenges to their anti-LGBTIQ+ laws this March.

OIP Staff

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