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DR Congo: lack of funds impede fight against DRC’s anti homosexuality bill

Almost five months after the anti homosexuality bill was tabled before the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) organisations and activists say they have not had the opportunity to mobilize or even undertake any action to opposethe bill due the lack of funding to support the activities.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

14th March 2011 21:51

Alessia Valenza

Jean Bedel Kaniki of Hirondelles Bukavu, an LGBTI organisation in DRC organisations had solely depended on financial support promised by and international funder, which they did not get.

“We have planned many actions with human rights and civil society organisation. Unfortunately we never received the fund and we have not heard from them and as a result we could not undertake any action. It is my deepest regret that we missed this opportunity to campaign against the proposed bill and raise awareness on LGBT issues”, Kaniki said.

The bill, comprising of seven articles, was presented before the National Assembly in October 2010 and was sent to the National Assembly’s committee on society and culture – the socio-cultural committee – that will discuss the permissibility of its provisions and the principles of the constitution before its promulgation.

In the following weeks the LGBT community in DRC received a lot of support from LGBT organisations in the continent and abroad. Diverse articles and open letters were also published on the internet denouncing the proposed Bill as a gross human rights violation that goes against all international treaties ratified by the DRC.

LGBT organisations in the country were allegedly promised sufficient funds to mobilize the community and set up a strategic plan to oppose the bill but these never materialised.

However Behind the Mask is aware that the bill was not debated by the Socio- cultural Committee during the last and current session of parliament.

Kaniki said it is unlikely that it will be debated during the current session of parliament that ends on the 15 March 2011 since “there have been more pressing issues debated during the last and current sessions of parliament. My prediction is that it will be debated during the next session that will start in June this year.”

“If nothing is done, considering the support the bill has received in the public opinion, the parliament will probably pass the law that criminalizes homosexuality. Elections are around the corner; therefore the vote of the parliament will depend on the role that law could play in political campaign and calculation. “

The Sexual Practices Against Nature Bill will, if passed, criminalize homosexuality and sexual practices with animals such as zoophilia and bestiality

It will also criminalise any activities that promote the rights of LGBTI persons. Section 174h3 of the Bill stipulates that, “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 and “all associations that promote or defend sexual relations against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC.”

Any offender contravening this Bill will be punished by 3 to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of 500,000 Congolese francs (Section 174h1).