Gabon is one of the many countries where sex between individuals of same the gender (homosexuality), is considered as a criminal offence against the law and punishable according to the law. It is punishable by serving six months in prison and a fine of 5 million FCFA, as stated by Human dignity Trust a London-based rights group.
The country’s arm of government is bicameral (contains two chambers). Firstly, the Senate which consists of 91 seats elected to six year term by the municipal councils and departmental assemblies. Secondly, the second chamber is the national assembly with 120 parliamentary seats. Members elected by direct popular vote and serve five-year term. Both have the rights to initiate new laws.
According to activists and pro-gay rights group report, the LGBT community faces discrimination to a point that they have to go into hiding while some face harassment by anti-gay individuals. In the same vein, same-sex marriage in central African state where both the law and community view homosexuality as a taboo.
Gabon Parliamentary votes on homosexuality petition
On Tuesday, 24th of June a petition was issued in Gabon’s lower house of parliament to revise a 2019 law article that criminalized homosexuality. Meanwhile, Members of parliament voted in favor of legalizing homosexuality. Forty-eight MPs supported the government proposed initiative. Twenty-four voted against as the remaining twenty-five declined to take part. Gabon became part of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to amend a law used against same-sex couples.
“Forty-eight lawmakers have shaken an entire nation, its customs and traditions,”
one of the opposing Member of Parliament said.
June 30th senates votes to legalize LGBTQ
The senate, which is Gabon’s upper parliamentary chamber supports the of legalizing homosexuality. Similarly, joining hands with lower house whose votes firmly pointed towards similar direction.
However, the legislation is a NO for some members of the mostly religious Gabonese society. This is according to reports indicating that some well-known politicians, religious leaders. Moreover a percentage of the public have criticized the legislation relating it to modification done to placate foreign donors.
The final move is on president Ali Bongo Ondimba, will approve the bill in the central African country. Gabon will add to the small number of African countries to lawfully allow homosexuality. If this is happens, the 2019 law that criminalized it imposing heavy fine in addition to six months jail term for gay sex will no longer work.
A win for gay rights activists
This step is a win for activists and pro-gay rights. For instance, it bears a promise of success towards ensuring African government respects rights of single-sex partners.