Gabon lawmakers in the country’s lower house of parliament have voted to decriminalise homosexuality. With this vote, Gabon becomes one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to reverse a law that punishes sexual relations between people of the same sex. The law still needs to be backed by the upper house.
Gabon’s Prime Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale who initiated the bill wrote in a tweet that “As I am against the death penalty, I am also against the stigmatisation of homosexuals. Congratulations to the parliamentarians for having changed mentalities and being able to adapt to the times.”
The decision has divided opinion. In the vote, 48 members of parliament backed the government’s proposal to reverse a law that criminalised homosexuality while 24 voted against and 25 abstained. After the decision, intense debate sparked on social media and four protesters against the law were briefly detained by police in front of the Senate.
“My attachment to the constitution, and to our ancestral values do not command me to authorise or encourage such practices,” said PDG lawmaker Blaise Louembe, who voted against the law.
“Forty-eight lawmakers have shaken an entire nation and its customs and traditions,” another lawmaker who voted against the revision, told ‘Reuters’.
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