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HomeMedico-LegalGabon's decision to decriminalise homosexuality welcomed

Gabon's decision to decriminalise homosexuality welcomed

The UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has welcomed a decision by Gabon to decriminalise homosexuality, joining a growing number of countries in Africa that have removed criminal laws targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) people. President Ali Bongo Ondimba signed off on the decision following a vote by Gabon's Senate on 29 June.

“I applaud the collective decision by Gabon’s parliament, government and president to decriminalise same-sex sexual relations,” UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima said. “By doing so, Gabon is righting a grave injustice inflicted on the LGBTI community in the country.”

The report says Paragraph 5 of Article 402 which criminalised same-sex sexual relations with a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a fine was inserted into the new Gabonese penal code in July 2019. That paragraph has now been withdrawn, said Byanyima, adding that UNAIDS was encouraged that such a step back in terms of human rights could be overturned quickly when communities, civil society, politicians and other allies came together to right the wrongs.

UNAIDS argues that stigma, discrimination and violence against LGBTI people and criminalising same-sex relationships prevent people from accessing HIV prevention, testing and treatment services, increasing their risk of acquiring the virus, in addition to being a profound violation of a basic human right.

Byanyima urged at least 69 other countries and territories around the world that still criminalise same-sex sexual relations to follow Gabon's route, which UN human rights expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz called a good step for equality.

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