Comment: Niger’s new leader might be better for gay rights, couldn’t be worse

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08/26/2023

In the wake of the July 26 coup that overthrew Niger’s president, members of the nation’s LGBTQ community see a possibility that the government’s previous anti-LGBTQ stance might soften. In January, then president Mohamed Bazoum announced his explicit intention to make changes to the country’s penal code, promising to severely punish homosexuality, including the death penalty for same-sex marriage. Niger is one of the few predominantly Muslim countries in Africa that lacks an anti-homosexuality law. Mazoum wanted to change that in response to an outpouring of anti-gay sentiment that swept the country. His plan was upended by the July 26 coup, although that was not the goal of the military takeover, which coup leaders explained as motivated by deteriorating security and bad governance. Mazoum is now under house arrest. Neighboring nations have threatened to intervene militarily.

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