During late 2012 and early 2013, there have been numerous legal threats brewing across Africa, in respect of homosexuality. This cannot be ignored, particularly by businesses, as the growing international trend, particularly in Europe and the US, is to prevent discrimination along the lines of gender, race, or sexual orientation. However many business forget that African counties are in many ways heading in the opposite direction, particularly when it comes to homosexuality. As such, across numerous African states, some of which qualify as being in the top ten investment destinations in Africa, public opinion and legislative reform are seeking to further criminalise homosexuality.
The following list covers African countries where it is homosexuality can be punished by imprisonment:
18. Malawi (enforcement of law suspended)
25. Sao Tome
28. Sierra Leone
30. South Sudan
It is notable that certain parts of Nigeria, particularly in the north of the country, the entirety of Mauritania and South Sudan and Sudan, as well as southern parts of Somalia make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. South Africa remains the only country on the continent which actively champions the rights of homosexuals and conveys full legal recognition and protection.
Surprisingly however, the majority of African countries do not actively prohibit the entry of homosexuals into their countries. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to be aware of where homosexuality is and is not tolerated, in order to protect the entirety of their staff from undue harassment or potential legal discrimination when travelling in Africa.
However there is a distinct tendency within Africa at present to increase the penalties for being homosexual under domestic legislative reform. As such, Amnesty International in June 2013 released a report titled, “Making Love a Crime: Criminalization of Same-Sex Conduct in Sub-Saharan Africa”, which warns that governments in the African continent were stiffening penalties against homosexuals.
Notable increases in anti-homosexual laws are underway in the following countries:
• Uganda- was actively considering adopting the death penalty, until donor pressure forced legislators to drop the clause, however punishment is extremely harsh.
• Nigeria- Nigeria’s House of Representatives recently voted in favour of a ban on gay marriage, outlawing any groups actively supporting gay rights and endorsing a measure that also calls for 10-year prison sentences for any “public show” of affection by same-sex couples.
Note: Please refer to local legislature for further details, not all African countries define homosexuality in the same way, and potential punishments vary from country to country.