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Rwanda To Vote on Criminalizing Homosexuality Wednesday

Jim Burroway

December 15th, 2009

BTB has just learned that the Rwandan Parliament is scheduled to take up consideration of a change to Rwanda’s penal code which would criminalize homosexuality with a punishment of five to ten years. It would also ban counselling and advocacy that could be interpreted as “encouraging or sensitizing” people to enter into same-sex relationships.

The problematic section in the penal code is article 217 which states that:

Any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice, shall be liable for a term of imprisonment ranging from five (5) to ten (10) years and fine ranging from Two Hundred thousand Rwanda Francs (200.000 RwF) to one million (1,000,000)Rwanda francs.”

The fines range from US$350 to US$1750. The average annual income is just US$370.

One key phrase of the proposed penal code, “encourages or sensitizes,” would have the effect of criminalizing advocacy on behalf of LGBT people. It would also severely impact the ability to deliver health services to LGBT people.

The Horizon Community Association of Rwanda (HOCA) and the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) have denounced the bill (PDF: 56KB/3 pages), saying that Rwandan citizens still experience gross violations of human rights. “Our country and our people refuse to recognize the fact that we exist,” said Naomi Ruzindana, President of HOCA. “As far as they are concerned, there are no lesbians or gays in Rwanda. Well, we are here, we exist. We are ordinary people like everyone and all we want is for our people and our government to recognize our existence and the fact that it is our basic human right to live our lives the way that we want and choose.”

The Rwandan Parliament will also consider another section of the Penal code that would criminalize sex workers in the country.

Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren designated Rwanda “a purpose-driven nation” in 2005. In in 2007 the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, supported a law criminalizing homosexuality. Last week, Warren condemmed Uganda’s proposal to further criminalize homosexuality, saying, “I oppose the criminalization of homosexuality. The freedom to make moral choices is endowed by God. Since God gives us that freedom, we must protect it for all, even when we disagree with their choices.” While he addressed his video encyclical to Ugandan pastors, he also said of Rwanda:

While we have just begun to train pastors in Uganda, we are very involved in Rwanda, creating a nationwide PEACE Plan at the invitation of the churches there. Over 1,000 Saddleback members have served on humanitarian projects in Rwanda.

If Warren is serious about opposing the criminalization of homoseuxality, he should engage his nationwide Rwandan PEACE Plan to put a stop to this bill. And send a personal copy of his video encyclical to his friend, President Kagame.



December 15th, 2009 | LINK

Apparently their blood lust wasn’t sated by killing 950,000 Tutsis. There truly is no end to human ignorance and de[ravity.

December 15th, 2009 | LINK

Hmm. A pattern appears to emerging.

Yes I know he’s come out against the Ugandan bill—nice of him. Maybe. Maybe spin control. But why is it that in places where Rick Warren holds sway the folks conclude that criminalizing homosexuality is a necessary and good thing to do? Something getting lost in the translation?

I don’t trust this man as far as I could throw him.

Stefano A
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

BTB has just learned that the Uganda Parliament is scheduled to take up consideration of a change to Rwanda’s penal code which would criminalize homosexuality with a punishment of five to ten years.

Uhmmm, why would the Ugandan Parliament be taking up consideration of a Rwandan penal code? ;)

East African
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

“The Uganda Parliament is scheduled to take up consideration of a change to Rwanda’s penal code…”

What? Countries can change each other’s laws now? Then why doesn’t Uganda’s parliament just change U.S. penal law on homosexuality?

Jim Burroway
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

Yes, my deepest apologies to Rwandan readers, and to others who might have been confused. I’ve been writing about Uganda so much lately it’s become a reflex. The article is now corrected.

December 15th, 2009 | LINK

What do you expect from a country that recently committed genocide?

December 15th, 2009 | LINK

It is truely sad that Rwanda has learned nothing from its relatively recent national trauma. More suffering for an already suffering people.

Wayne Besen
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

Great job Jim. Way to be on top of it.

Rev. Steve
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

Thank you for being at the forefront of reporting this ongoing nightmare, Jim.

Lynn David
December 15th, 2009 | LINK

This is just disheartening…..

December 16th, 2009 | LINK

Guys, Rwanda is an independent country, if people of Rwanda vote against gays & lesbians, let it be, why should you people worry to much?. Gays are most hated in the world & im telling you, these devils are being protected for nothing. They deserve nothing,but hell. Kagame will kick their rotten, stinky asses.

Joe Perez
December 16th, 2009 | LINK

Just wanted to drop you a note to say thank you for continuing to cover the international stories as you do. Much needed.

R Holmes
December 16th, 2009 | LINK

Merry Christmas to you too, Monte. Peace on earth and goodwill to all. (Yes, even gays. And even hateful gits like you.)

Thank you, BTB, for reporting this.

December 16th, 2009 | LINK

And once again anti-gay Christians will refuse to acknowledge that what they preach leads people to commit acts of incredible cruelty. Why can’t they make the connection that them preaching that God hates gays leads their followers to kill gays because they think they’re doing God’s will by ridding the world of what God hates?

December 16th, 2009 | LINK

The blood on the hands of the American Christian Right is positively gushing forth. All American Christian Right will be responsible for what has been unleashed not only in Uganda, but obviously in Rwanda as well. The Sunday morning Christian Right continues to roll in their aisles with animus and that is the source of this killing disease unleashed by the White American Christian Right. All who are to be killed in these affected countries will be killed because of the American Christian Right’s lobbying efforts. All American Conservative Christians are guilty. They are equally quilty because of their shared animus, which fostered and created this murder-based pogrom against gay and lesbian Africans. And in this group, Rick Warren is just as guilty. I personally think the death penalty is appropriate for the American Christian Right members who have created this situation for Gay and Lesbian Ugandans and Rwandans. When an African Gay person is murdered by Uganda or Rwanda, then an eye for an eye should be in place, and the American Christian Right instigators should be put to death. There can be NO forgiveness for their activities against Gay and Lesbian persons who live anywhere in the world. We need justice for the deaths which are about to happen to innocent Gay and Lesbian people in Africa.

December 19th, 2009 | LINK

From today’s New Times in Rwanda:-

KIGALI – The Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama has condemned and refuted reports that government intends to criminalize homosexual acts saying that sexual orientation is a private matter not a state business.

His reaction comes after international organizations, including rights groups and gay communities across the world raised an alarm in several reports accusing the government of trying to consider a law against homosexuality.

“The government I serve and speak for on certain issues cannot and will not in any way criminalize homosexuality; sexual orientation is a private matter and each individual has his or her own orientation – – this is not a State matter at all,” said Karugarama.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), and Rwanda’s Horizon Community Association (HOCA), recently issued statements demanding that that the Rwandan Parliament withdraws article 217 of the penal code regarding homosexuality.

The Minister accused the ‘groups for either acting in total ignorance or intentionally presenting wrong facts for their own political motives.’

“They allege that the law was to be passed in Parliament on December 16, but sincerely there was nothing like that in the parliament that day.”

He clearly stated that; “these people should distinguish between issues debated by private parties and concrete proposals from the government.”

He hastened to add that the government has held a meeting with its development partners on this particular issue and told them their position ‘which is that the government has no intentions whatsoever to criminalize homosexuality.


March 10th, 2015 | LINK

Any updates? What happenned to the bill.

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