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Angola Decriminalises Gay Sex

Still another 69 countries to go, but a win nonetheless!

Angola has just dropped the colonial penalty that was used to prosecute those who engaged in gay sex.

On Wednesday (23 January), Angola became the first country in 2019 to decriminalise same-sex conduct. The penal code was written by Angola’s Portuguese colonisers when they ruled the country in 1886. With 155 votes in favour of the new bill and one against, the new code was called ‘genuinely Angola’ by the ruling party.

The country has now dropped this 1886 colonial-era penal code which was – rather disturbingly – called the ‘vices against nature’ provision. This provision was reportedly used to criminalise homosexual activity. This put the private lives of LGBT people under legal scrutiny, limited their freedom and curtailed their rights. The new bill also bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace. Anyone who refuses to employ or provide services to someone based on their sexual orientation may now face up to two years in prison, explains Human Rights Watch.

Since Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, their parliament has been making changes to the system they inherited from their colonisers, like removing this provision and recognising an LGBT-rights group. While Angolan law still does not recognise same-sex couples, and stigma remains a problem, progress was also made last year when the Angolan government legally recognised LGBTI-rights group Iris Angola. The association, more than five years old, called the decision a ‘historic moment’ according to News24. Human Rights Watch reports that the lobby group had previously complained that its members faced discrimination when it came to healthcare and education.

There are still almost 70 countries that criminalise gay sex, so there’s still a long way to go. To be exact, another 69 countries still have laws against consensual same-sex activity. In 2018, India, Trinidad and Tobago moved to decriminalise same-sex conduct. Interestingly, and similarly to Angola, the Indian penal code that was overturned last year also dates back to their (British) era of colonial rule. Coincidence? Nah.

Gay Star News reports that there’s possible change on the cards for other countries with anti-gay laws, including Lebanon, Tunisia, Singapore, Jamaica and Kenya.

We hope to see more steps implemented towards equality, decolonisation and freedom.

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