Burundi bans gay sex

By |2009-05-07T09:00:00-04:00May 7th, 2009|News|

by Rex Wockner

International News Briefs

The president of the Central African nation of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, “secretly” signed a bill criminalizing homosexual conduct April 22, Human Rights Watch reported.
The measure had passed the National Assembly last November but was rejected overwhelmingly by the Senate in February.
“However, under the Burundian constitution, the National Assembly prevails in cases of conflict between the two houses of Parliament,” HRW said.
“Burundi has taken a disappointing step backward by legalizing discrimination,” said Scott Long, director of HRW’s LGBT Rights Division. “The government has fallen back on ‘custom’ and ‘culture’ to justify this repressive step – but there can be no justification for stripping some of Burundi’s people of their fundamental rights.”
HRW and 62 Burundian, African and international human rights organizations issued a joint statement April 24 denouncing the law, Article 567, which punishes consensual gay sex between adults with up to two years in prison.
Gay sex had never been prohibited in Burundi previously.
Speaking on television in January, Nkurunziza called homosexuality a “curse.” According to HRW, his staff also lobbied legislators to support the bill and, in March, his political party, CNDD-FDD, staged a large protest in Bujumbura, the capital, calling for a ban on gay sex.
HRW said CNDD-FDD bused in “schoolchildren and adults from rural provinces, many of whom, according to journalists present at the event, had no understanding of what they were protesting.”

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