The colonial legacy of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in Africa

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11/13/2023

Namibia’s High Court will rule next May in a case that could see the southern African country overturn a colonial-era ban on same-sex relations. Friedel Dausab, who is gay, is challenging the compatibility of the common law offence of sodomy and related offences with his rights under the constitution. Sexual contact between men is a criminal offence in Namibia but the law is seldom enforced. Like many anti-LGBTQ+ statutes across Africa, the Namibian law dates back to colonisation and was retained on the books after independence in 1990. In October, Mauritius moved to decriminalise same-sex relations when the Supreme Court in the Indian Ocean island nation struck out a law dating back to British colonial rule in 1898, saying it was unconstitutional. Globally, 65 jurisdictions still criminalise same-sex relations, according to rights group Human Dignity Trust (HDT), and 31 of these are in Africa.

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