Press release July 9, 2020
Gabon: Freedom House Welcomes Decriminalization of Same-sex Relations
Legal recognition of LGBT+ rights is imperative for a free and democratic society.
In response to Gabon decriminalizing homosexuality, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“We welcome Gabon’s reversal of a law criminalizing same-sex relations,” said Mindy Michels, director of the Emergency Assistance Program at Freedom House. “Legal recognition of LGBT+ rights is imperative for a free and democratic society. Overturning the 2019 law—which carried a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and a 5 million Central African CFA franc fine for same-sex relations—corrects an injustice imposed upon the LGBT+ community last year. Gabon should maintain and expand its commitment to allowing its citizens to live in freedom, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In 2019, Gabon became one of the 73 countries and jurisdictions to make same-sex relations illegal (unlike many other countries on the continent, Gabon did not have a colonial-era ban). In 2008, Gabon was one of only six African countries to sign a nonbinding UN declaration calling for the global decriminalization of homosexuality. But three years later Gabon voted against the historic UN resolution condemning acts of violence and discrimination against LGBT+ people.
On June 29, 2020, Gabon’s Senate voted 59 to 17 in favor of decriminalizing same-sex relations (four senators abstained, in the closed-door session). President Ali Bongo signed the bill on July 7. Notably, Bongo’s wife supported the legislation, arguing that the ability to love freely without being condemned is a fundamental human right.
Gabon is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2020.