Gabon to Decriminalize Being LGBTQ?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday June 30, 2020

The Central African country of Gabon has taken steps toward decriminalizing LGBTQ people, reports Radio France Internationale. The moves are an about-face from a law passed less than a year ago that made same-sex relationships illegal.

The lower hour of the Gabon parliament voted to strike the anti-gay law on June 23, Radio France Internationale reported. That vote was followed by a similar vote in the senate on June 29, Reuters reports.

Many African nations have laws on the books stemming from colonial periods that outlaw same-sex relationships and criminalize sex between people of the same gender. One of the most notorious nations in Africa for its anti-gay laws is Uganda, where a "Kill the Gays" bill was introduced after a rally organized by American anti-LGBTQ evangelicals.

Human Rights Watch researcher Neela Ghoshal told Reuters in late 2019, after the passage of the anti-LGBTQ law, that "a lot of African countries have claimed and owned those homophobic, colonial values, but others haven't," noted Radio France Internationale.

Even at the time, Ghosal predicted that positive changes would come to Africa in the next decade, saying, "In general, across the continent, things are moving more in the right direction than in the wrong direction."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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