Lawmakers in Burundi are pressing ahead
with a bill that criminalizes being gay in the central African
country, reports AFP.
The Senate rejected an amendment that
criminalized being gay when voting on a new draft criminal code law
on February 17. In November, the lower chamber of Parliament had
voted in favor of the amendment that prescribes two years in jail for
A large protest might have influenced
assembly members who voted to reinstate the amendment on Friday.
Last week, as many as 20,000 people took to the streets of Bujumbura,
the country's capital, angry over the Senate's actions.
Speaking to reporters at the event,
CNDD-FDD Party Chairman Jeremie Ngendakumana said, “The CNDD-FDD is
protesting today to support the [view of the] majority of Burundians
that homosexuality should be punished by law.”
“Homosexuality is a sin. It is a
culture which has been imported to sully our morals and is practiced
by immoral people.”
“If we love our country, if we love
our culture, we must ban this practice which will draw only
misfortune for us,” he added.
Assembly President Pie Ntavyohanyuma
said the vote on the issue was nearly unanimous. Lawmakers now need
to work out a compromise between the two versions of the bill. If a
compromise is unattainable, assembly members get to decide on the
“We can't retreat, or it will seem
like deputies are granting the right to have homosexual relations,
even homosexual marriage, in Burundi,” said Jean Minani, a member
of the Assembly.
Minani's view on the issue is one held
by many in Africa, where anti-gay sentiment has been on the rise in
recent years. Lawmakers in Nigeria are considering passing a
draconian law that would criminalize gay unions under the guise of a
gay marriage ban in a country where it is already illegal to be gay.
Gay marriage bans generally only define marriage as a heterosexual
union, denying gay couples the benefits and obligations of the
institution, but the Nigerian law would go much further. The bill
calls for three years of imprisonment for gay and lesbian couples
caught living together and five years for anyone who witnesses or
aids the pair.