Angola has decriminalised same-sex relationships. Will the rest of Africa follow?

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Sophia Purdy-Moore

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:

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:

Another Twitter user concluded their celebratory tweet with “love is love is love”:

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.

Highlighting the colonial legacy of homophobic laws in Africa, Rachel Akidi said:

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:

Sharing his hope that other African nations such as Nigeria will follow suit, writer Elnathan John said:

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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