foreign relations

How Did Rwanda’s Own Homosexuality=Crime Bill Arrive Under Everyone’s Nose?


With so much focus on Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill, how did the international human rights community — or, say, the U.S. State Department — miss the news that Rwanda’s lawmakers are today voting on making homosexuality a crime?

Of course, some 80 countries around the world have laws on the books outlawing the “lifestyle” you are born with. In Africa, a whopping 38 out of 53 do. And Rwanda wants to join the list. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission writes in an email:

On December 16, 2009, the lower house of the Rwandan Parliament will hold its final debate on a draft revision of the penal code that will, for the first time, make homosexuality a crime in Rwanda. A vote on this draft code will occur before the end of the week. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has learned that the proposed Article 217 of the draft Penal Code Act will criminalize “[a]ny person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice.” Rwanda’s Chamber of Deputies will vote on the draft code December 16, 2009. If the Chamber of Deputies approves, the draft code will go before the Rwandan Senate most likely in early 2010.

Article 217 violates Rwandans’ basic human rights and is contradictory to the Rwandan Constitution as well as various regional and international conventions. IGLHRC, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), and Rwanda’s Horizon Community Association (HOCA) will shortly issue a call to action to demand that the Rwandan Parliament withdraw this article. We urge the international community to act against this proposed law and support the equality, dignity, and privacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Rwanda.

Curiously, as Box Turtle Bulletin points out, none other than Rick Warren has a close, personal relationship with Rwanda.

Huh. At least there’s no death sentence portion?