The small African nation of Burundi
recently adopted a raft of new laws, among them is the
criminalization of being gay, reports AFP.
Some lawmakers were critical of the new
prohibition against gays.
“Unfortunately, this penal law is
also a regression because it now makes homosexuality a criminal
offense, whereas it had been tolerated until now,” said MP
Catherine Mabobori, who abstained during the vote.
The Republic of Burundi is a small
country in Eastern Africa bordering Rwanda. The nation declared its
independence from its European colonizers in 1962. Soon afterwards,
the nation became embroiled in a civil war between Hutus and Tutsis
that continues to this day.
Citing a desperate need to fight the
spread of AIDS in a continent ravaged by the disease, gay rights
activists protested the law.
“We at ARDHO are outraged by this
decision to criminalize homosexuality. We don't understand how
educated people can adopt such a law because homosexuality is neither
a disease nor a deviance,” an official with the Association for the
Respect of Homosexuals' Rights said.
“How are we going to be able continue
the struggle against AIDS in our community if every homosexual has to
go underground,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The United Nations recently urged India
to decriminalize being gay, saying such laws hinder HIV prevention
efforts aimed at gay men.
“Countries which protect men who have
sex with men ... have double the rate of coverage of HIV prevention
services – as much as 60 percent,” Jeffrey O'Malley, director of
the United Nations Development Program on HIV/AIDS, told AFP.