Gabon lawmakers have approved a bill that seeks to decriminalize gay sex in the African nation.

The law, approved in 2019, prohibits sexual relations between members of the same sex.

The National Assembly approved the bill last week and it cleared the Senate on Monday, Reuters reported.

The government has not commented on why it has reversed course. The United States last year began a campaign to encourage nations to drop their bans.

Seventy-three countries or jurisdictions around the world have similar laws making gay sex illegal.

"Gabon now joins African states such as Seychelles, Angola, Mozambique, and Botswana who have chosen to rid their lawbooks of archaic provisions which enable discrimination, violence and harassment against LGBT people," Victoria Vasey, legal chief at the London-based Human Dignity Trust, told Reuters.

The local Roman Catholic Church had called on senators to vote no on the bill.