Lawmakers in Gabon’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday voted to decriminalise homosexuality, becoming one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to reverse a law that punishes sexual relations between people of the same sex.
Forty-eight members of parliament backed the proposed initiative by the government to revise an article of the 2019 law that criminalised homosexuality. Twenty-four voted against, while 25 others abstained.
“Forty-eight lawmakers have shaken an entire nation and its customs and traditions,” one member of parliament who voted against the revision, told Reuters.
Same-sex marriage is still not allowed in the central African state, where homosexuality is still broadly seen as a taboo.
Gabon is one of 73 countries or jurisdictions worldwide that criminalises sex between men, and sex between women, with punishments of up to six months imprisonment and a fine of 5 million FCFA ($8,715), according to London-based rights group Human Dignity Trust.