|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights organisations and activists have expressed concerns over the the Sexual Practices Against Nature Bill presented before the national parliament of the Democratic Republic of aiming to criminalise homosexuality and zoophilia as sexual practices against nature.
Jean Bedel Kaniki, President of Groupe Hirondelles Bukavu, an LGBTI organisation in the DRC confirmed that on the 22 October “the bill was judged admissible by the majority of the parliament and was sent to the socio-cultural committee that will discuss its permissibility in terms of the provisions and principles of the constitution before its promulgation.”
Section 2 of the proposed Bill singles out zoophilia (sex with animals) and homosexuality as sexual practices against nature.
It also criminalises 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.”
Those who go against the stipulations of this Bill will be punished by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 Congolese francs (Section 174h1). Kaniki explained that the Bill is most likely to be passed next year.
“I do not think that the bill will be passed before the next parliamentary session in March next year; in the next few weeks the budget will be the most pressing issue debated”, he said.
However, Kaniki warned that “we should not wait until March 2011 because they can always surprise us, the same way they did when the Bill was presented to parliament. It came as a surprise for us.”
Organisations have already set up a joint working group in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC.
“We are trying to mobilize the diplomats and also to have people in parliament who can intervene in our favour to the president of the parliament.”
Kaniki also said organisations have the support of LGBTI organisations such as Horizon Community Association (HOCA) from Rwanda, Mouvement Pour Les Libertis Individuells (MOLI) and Humure from Burundi, as well as other LGBTI organisations from Kenya, Uganda and South Africa that have more experience.
In an open letter sent to human rights organisations and activists, the organisations denounced the proposed Bill as a gross human rights violation that goes against all international treaties ratified by the DRC.