John M. Becker

Will Democratic Republic of the Congo Be the Next Uganda?

Filed By John M. Becker | March 12, 2014 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: anti-gay law, Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Congo, criminalization, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Steve Mbikayi, Uganda, Zaire

democratic-republic-of-congo-map.jpgA homophobic lawmaker in the giant central African nation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is hoping his country will follow the lead of Uganda and Nigeria and criminalize LGBT people.

Think Africa Press reports:

Last December, Steve Mbikayi, an MP with the Parti Travailliste Congolais (PTC), introduced a draft bill to the Congolese National Assembly that would explicitly criminalise homosexuality. The DRC is one of the relatively few African countries in which homosexual acts have not been directly banned though there is much discrimination against LGBT communities.

Throughout February, Mbikayi toured the country to garner popular support for the bill. In addition to radio interviews and television appearances, the MP spoke at a conference organised at the University of Kinshasa where he condemned homosexuality and Western leaders for condoning "unnatural acts" such as paedophilia and bestiality. Mbikayi also defended his bill as being constitutional, citing article 40 of the Congolese constitution, which states that "all individuals have the right to marry a person of their choice of the opposite sex."

Mbikayi's bill - which has yet to be made public but which has been seen by Think Africa Press - contains 37 articles that would render homosexuality and transgenderism illegal. The proposed penalty for engaging in a homosexual act is 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of 1 million Congolese francs (about $1,000); while a transgender person would face the same fine and a jail sentence of 3 to 12 years.

The draft also contains a passage promising that the Congolese government will pay three quarters of any medical costs to "correct hormonal disorders that may result in homosexuality."

LGBT advocates hope this latest proposal will die in parliament, the same fate that befell a similar effort in 2010. If it passes, however, the DRC will become the 38th African nation to criminalize homosexuality.

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