Alarming Move to Criminalise Homosexuality in the DRC


A lawmaker in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has proposed a bill that if passed will jail LGBTQ+ people for up to 10 years with forced labour.

According to Erasing 76 Crimes, the bill to amend the penal code has been put forward by Constant Mutamba, a member of Parliament from the opposition party, Dynamique Progressiste Révolutionnaire.

If successful, the legislation would criminalise same-sex intimacy for the first time in the history of the central African nation, the second largest on the continent with a population of around 112 million.

Those found guilty of engaging in consensual and private homosexual acts could face up to 10 years of “penal servitude,” a form of imprisonment that includes forced labour, along with fines of 15 million Congolese francs (around USD 5,400 or ZAR 100,000).

In a memorandum outlining his proposed legislation, Mutamba asserts that “Any form of homosexual orientation is in no way tolerated in Congolese culture.” He expounds several false fear-mongering narratives to justify his assault on human rights, including arguing that homosexuality is “a form of neocolonialism”.

Mutamba further claims that the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is needed to protect “the unity and stability of the family” and “to protect children against external cultural aggression…”

While same-sex sexual activity has always been legal for both males and females in the DRC, it is widely seen as immoral. LGBTQ+ individuals have been targeted under public indecency provisions for acts such as kissing that are rarely applied to heterosexual people.

The country enacted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2006, and same-sex relationships are not recognised.

The proposed legislation is the third bill targeting LGBTQ+ people introduced over the past 14 years. The two similar earlier efforts were unsuccessful.

“The consequences of this proposal criminalising love between people of the same sex and ‘all actions assimilated to homosexuality’ would be devastating, reinforcing discrimination and violence against an already vulnerable community,” says Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko, the organisation behind a petition to oppose the bill.

The alarming development comes amid heightened anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in several parts of Africa, including severe and inhumane legislation recently being passed in Uganda and Ghana.

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