Criminalising homosexuality in the DRC

The DRC parliament is presently debating proposed in the process of discussing legislation which will criminalise homosexuality. There are a number of major difference between the DRC Bill and legislation proposed in for example, Nigeria and Uganda which have proposed similar legislation. First the DRC does not presently have any laws on homosexuality and secondly this Bill includes a clause criminalising zooophilia which is directly associated with homosexuality “.

[English translation] The moral rules tell us that homosexuality (lesbianism) is a zoophilia termed moral depravity abomination, references to the Bible and other writings. Given the requirements to preserve our society of this scourge and promote destructive Congolese culture on the one hand, and to overcome the repressive system Congolese become incomplete and inadequate for the evolution and cultural mix in planetary scale on the other.

The Bill is framed in the usual language that homosexuality is “unAfrican” against ‘our’ culture, ‘threat’ to family and religious preservation. In other areas the Bill is similar in that it also aims to criminalise

any activities that directly or indirectly aim to promoting the rights LGBTI persons, therefore, in accordance with section 174h3 of the Bill, “all publications, posters, pamphlets, (or) films highlighting or likely to arouse or encourage sexual practices against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC (Section 174h3)” and “all associations that promote or defend sexual relations against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC.”


However the Bill is facing some parliamentry opposition on the basis that it will “violate individual freedoms dearly proclaimed by the Constitution and goes against the current trend of wider individual and human rights in the DRC”. In addition human rights and LGBTI within the DRC and other countries in Central and East Africa are working diligently to prevent the Bill from being passed – it is also important and in the best interest of those who would be directly affected by the legislation that local groups take the leadership in decision making and responding to the bill.

As usual religious leaders of all persuasions are at the forefront of condemning gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people but remain eerily silent on the violence of poverty, on the systematic rape of women by various militias and the Congolese armed forces, poverty and the massive levels of corruption in the DRC government. It is obvious that the proposed law like its siblings in other parts of the continent is nothing more than a political decoy for a government which is not willing to address the real needs and issues facing it’s citizens.

The proposed law is as follows:

Democratic Republic of Congo
National Assembly
Kinshasa/Lingwala

Proposed Law Concerning Sexual Practices Against Nature

Introduced by the Honorable Bishop Ejiba Yamapia Evariste

Proposed Law Concerning Sexual Practices Against Nature

Law number ……/…… of …….. modifying and supplementing the decree of 30 January 1940 of the Congolese Penal Code and the law of 20 July 2006 on sexual violence.

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

Globalisation and modernisation have not only been positive forces in the lives of people of the world in general and especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Indeed, we have witnessed in recent decades practices that in the name of freedom have dismantled the foundations of an African society based on family stability and the preservation of Congolese culture, ethics, ways and customs.

Indeed, it is the responsibility of public authority, in conformity with Article 40 of the Constitution, to guarantee the safety of the family against all phenomena likely to threaten its unity, its stability, and its protection.

The homosexuality that some consider as an expression of liberty and of democracy is nothing more than a threat to the family as the foundation of society and has severely attacked Congolese culture. It is nothing more nor less than a deviation of the human race towards relations against nature.

Moral rules teach us that homosexuality (lesbianism) and zoophilia constitute a moral depravity and are described as an abomination, reference to which is made in the Bible and other writings.

Having regard to the need to save our society from this descrutive scourge and to promote Congolese culture on the one hand, and to overcome a repressive Congolese system that is incomplete and ill-adapted to the evolution and cultural mix on global scale on the other hand.

The constituent, aware of his responsibilities before God and the Congolese Nation,

(signature).

It is imperative to revise the Congolese Penal Code with the integration of rules concerning sexual practices against nature. This law has the value of contributing to the restoration of morals, the protection of the family, and the safeguarding of the cultural identity of the DRC.

With regard to the Penal Code and the law of 20 July 2006 on sexual violence, the changes are mainly to section III, of Title VI of CPL II, paragraph 8 of the Law on Sexual Violence relating to the offense of sexual practices against nature, never before criminalised in the Penal Code of the DRC.

LAW

The National Assembly has adopted,

The President of the Republic promulgates the law, which reads as follows:

Article 1: Paragraph 8, of section III of Title VI, of the Penal Code LII, which has been modified and supplemented by the Law of 20 July 2006, which reads:

Paragraph 8: Sexual Practices Against Nature

Article 2: Sexual practices against nature constitute zoophilia and homosexuality.

Article 174h: Anyone who, by trickery, violence, threats or any other form of coercion or artifice, forces a person to have sexual relations with an animal will be punished by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of 200,0000 Congolese francs.

Anyone who voluntarily has sexual relations with an animal will be punished by the same penalties as listed above.

Art. 174h1:   Anyone who has homosexual relations will be punished by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 Congolese francs.

Subject to Article 170 of the Congolese Penal Code as modified and supplemented by the Law on Sexual Violence, anyone who by constraint, trickery, violence, threats or by any other form of coercion forces a person to have homosexual relations will be punished by 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine of not less than 100,000 Congolese francs.

Art. 174h2:   All associations that promote or defend sexual relations against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC.

Anyone who creates, finances, initiates or implements an association or any structure promoting sexual relations against nature in the DRC will be punished by 6 months to one year imprisonment and a fine of 1,000,000 Congolese francs.

Art. 174h3:   All publications, posters, pamphlets, (or) films highlighting or likely to arouse or encourage sexual practices against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC.

Article 3: All previous provisions contrary to the present law are abrogated.

Article 4: The law enters into force on the date of its promulgation.

Signed at Kinshasa, date _______
Joseph Kabila

12 thoughts on “Criminalising homosexuality in the DRC”

  1. I’m just astonished at how sad the sort of legislature that sits to draft these laws and the Judiciary that then enacts them in whatever community. Thinking about issues of sex, sexuality or gender identity even for the youngest Africa must be fraught with the sort of fear reserved for the threat of a flogging or worse, the threat of being daubed a witch. A word like “unafrican” or phrases such as “against nature” or the “laws of nature” are gross misreadings of religious text for the comfort of heteronormative agenda are themselves detrimental to nature bereft of its natural diversity. This sort of gagging of the LGBTI is symptomatic of colonialism in the past since most laws dressed up in today’s clothing came from those days. It is no wonder people no longer speak in terms of Africa and indigenous forms of spirituality any more for fear of being viewed as pagans or satanists or even the practise of the diversity of sex, sexuality and gender identity caught in compulsory heterosexuality. What an appalling inheritance!!!

  2. It is ashame that we have to come to this. That people are so SELF absorbed that they end up being led to un Godly acts, because whether people like it or not we were created and that is now being proven! When man aquires SOME knowledge the arrogance sets in. It is with humble wisdom that we become Knowledgeable. Common sense leaves as arrogance sets in. Self becomes the importance! Wasnt that the downfall of ALL great nations? Whatever needs to be done to protect the FAMILY! God Bless

  3. The DRC National Assembly refused to admit this bill for consideration on October 22: http://alexengwete.blogspot.com/2010/10/bill-on-sexual-practices-against-nature.html

    Also, I don’t understand your basis for claiming religious institutions in the DRC for “remain[ing] eerily silent on the violence of poverty, on the systematic rape of women by various militias and the Congolese armed forces, poverty and the massive levels of corruption in the DRC government.” It’s fine to argue that their stance on GLBT issues is immoral, but religious institutions are at the forefront of confronting poverty, sexual violence, and corruption in the DRC. In fact, they’re often the only institutions doing anything about these problems.

  4. Texas in Africa@ My information is based on reports post October 22nd from activists on the ground in the DRC – the last email of which was dated 6th November. It was also reported in Afrol News, Behind the Mask and a number of other sites post 22nd October. So somewhere there is a mis-understanding or mis-information on the status of the Bill. Regarding the role of religious institutions I have not seen any evidence of religious institutions making a concerted effort on the issues I mentioned.

  5. The only source I can find, in French or in English, speaking about rejecting the proposed bill, is a blogpost that you cite, Texas in Africa. That’s not nearly good enough against real newspaper that say something else.

  6. Re the role of religious institutions, almost all the country’s social services are provided by religious institutions, namely the Catholic, Protestant, and Kimbanguist Churches, as well as the Islamic Community.

    See, for example, here: http://www.oikoumene.org/news/news-management/eng/a/article/1637/congolese-churches-doing.html

    It is not an exaggeration to say that without churches and mosques there would be no health care or education in the DRC at all. They also did the bulk of the work in preparing the country for its first democratic elections in 2006, doing things like training citizens in how to mark a ballot, how to choose a candidate, and how to find their polling place.

    There does seem to be contradictory information on whether the bill was admitted or not. The only reputable source for DRC news is Radio Okapi and they just have a short “what do you think” piece on it that doesn’t provide any information on the law’s status:

    http://radiookapi.net/emissions-audio/parole-aux-auditeurs/2010/10/26/que-pensez-vous-de-la-proposition-de-loi-contre-certaines-pratiques-sexuelles/

    I will definitely keep an eye out for more info. Such a law is highly unlikely to pass, though, as the DRC is dependent on the international community for almost all of its budget.

  7. The provision of social services and other activities is not necessarily an indication of intervention on political and human rights and is in keeping with religious institutions in many countries. Nonetheless their work in preparing the country for elections in 2006 is admirable but in that does not challenge the status quo or either the military or political power in the country.

    The point about whether I have visited the DRC is incongruous and has no bearing on my political positioning on this issue and assumes that by virtue of being there we all have one perspective and interpretation of facts or what are even facts themselves. I am from Nigeria and have spent a great deal of my life there but that doesnt mean I have the same views as others in the country- on the contrary.

    “Such a law is highly unlikely to pass, though, as the DRC is dependent on the international community for almost all of its budget.”

    The DRC and pretty much most of the continent……Intervention by foreign donors, again goes back to the point about the work of religious institutions and their interventions. The aim of those working on human rights and decriminalistion or in the case of the DRC introducing new legislation – is to prevent this happening by going through the courts and by insisting countries abide by the human rights treaties they have signed and not because the US or Europe threaten to withhold aid. That changes nothing. This is what happened in Malawi and what is happening in Uganda and does nothing to actually change the laws themselves which is what is necessary. We have courts, we have HR commissions and other institutions – we need to start using them and keep at it until change takes place – nothing is forever.

    Regarding ‘reliable news sources – I cant comment on this except to say there are voices of people whom I would consider reliable sources.

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