Angola has introduced a new penal code which decriminalises same-sex relationships and prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The colonial-era code, which characterised gay relationships as “vices against nature”, was scrapped in January 2019 and came into force on 10 February 2021. LGBTQI+ activists across the African continent took to Twitter to celebrate the news and share their hopes that Angola’s new laws will set a precedent for other African states to legalise same-sex relationships and protect the rights and freedoms of LGBTQI+ people.
Same-sex relationships are now legal in Angola
The United Nations Human Rights office welcomed Angola’s decision to decriminalise same-sex relationships in January 2019, saying:
We welcome #Angola's decision to decriminalize same-sex conduct by removing the “vices against nature” provision in its law, historically interpreted to mean #homosexuality. pic.twitter.com/N2IO9k2eJl
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) January 25, 2019
Celebrating the institution of the new laws on 10 February 2021, French politician and LGBTQI+ activist Jean-Luc Romero-Michel said:
Angola’s 2019 law decriminalising homosexuality enters into effect today. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is now punishable and can lead to jail time. A great progress for human rights which should inspire others.
Journalist David Akinfenwa celebrated the news, saying:
Angola just decriminalized homosexually and evening passed a law that discrimination based on sexual orientation can land you a jail term.
— David Akinfenwa (@_davidtitan) February 9, 2021
Another Twitter user concluded their celebratory tweet with “love is love is love”:
From today, the law decriminalizing homosexuality in Angola takes effect.
Homophobia will be punished by imprisonments.
I’m so happy for every queer person in Angola
Love is love is love
— Son of the Rainbow AKA LGBTQ+ CLASS CAPTAIN🏳️🌈 (@Blaise_21) February 10, 2021
Will this set a precedent for other African states?
As set out by Openly, LGBTQI+ rights continue to be infringed in many African countries. This is partly due to homophobic colonial laws and conservative religious agendas.
Life imprisonment is the maximum penalty for gay sex in Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, while jail terms of up to 14 years are possible in Gambia, Kenya and Malawihttps://t.co/EwdeCOG76Q
— Openly 🏳️🌈 (@Openly) October 29, 2020
Highlighting the colonial legacy of homophobic laws in Africa, Rachel Akidi said:
#Angola has decriminalised homosexuality. The parliament also banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s the latest former #Portuguese colony to liberalise its laws. Many other African countries still maintain anti-gay legislation. #LGBT
— Rachael Akidi (@rakidi) January 24, 2019
The decriminalisation of same-sex relationships in Angola comes after Kenya’s High Court decided to keep a law that bans gay sex, which carries a 14-year sentence. LGBTQI+ activists in Kenya maintain hope that their country will join the emerging trend of African nations moving to protect LGBTQI+ rights:
Angola really did that. This is a huge step not only for the country but the continent as whole. This will hopefully open the conversation in other African states. #lgbtrights #HumanRights https://t.co/TGsNdHPcHv
— #Repeal162 🏳️🌈🇰🇪 (@Galck_ke) February 10, 2021
Sharing his hope that other African nations such as Nigeria will follow suit, writer Elnathan John said:
So apparently the law decriminalising homosexuality in Angola goes into effect today. For those who think Nigeria is not ready, there are African countries doing this. It is possible. No decent society should have laws punishing people for their sexuality. https://t.co/PmghccY8Za
— Elnathan John (@elnathan_john) February 10, 2021
Angola’s move to protect the rights and freedoms of LGBTQI+ communities is welcome progress. The decision is part of a growing trend of African nations repealing homophobic colonial-era laws. Let’s hope that this decision inspires other states to step up and respect LGBTQI+ rights.
Featured image via Tim Bieler/Unsplash
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