On 11 February 2021, the new Penal Code decriminalising same-sex relationships in Angola came into force. This follows Angola’s National Assembly approving the new Penal Code in November 2020, after deciding to decriminalise same-sex relationships in 2019. Angola has been slow in adopting a more progressive and equality driven approach, having only legally recognised the country’s major LGBTIQ+ organisation, Iris Angola, in 2018. Despite the slow pace, this is a most welcome development and an important moment for equality and inclusion in the region.
While Angola joins the ranks of countries worldwide that do not impose criminal sanctions for same-sex relationships, there are still many African states that discriminate against the LGBTIQ+ community. The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) has called on other African states that still criminalise same-sex relations to follow the example of states such as South Africa, Angola, Seychelles, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Malawi, Botswana and Gabon, that have judicially overturned or directly decriminalised the penalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts by adults. CHR have urged all African states to:
- recognise the dangers of violence and other forms of discrimination against persons based on their real or imputed sexual orientation and gender identity, and to institute laws that protect LGBTIQ+ persons from violence and discrimination as members of a vulnerable category as called upon in Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
- refrain from criminalising the work of human rights defenders and service providers working for the protection and well-being of LGBTIQ+ persons;
- work towards the education and sensitisation of their citizens to respect the rights of all persons including LGBTIQ+ persons; and
- fulfil their mandated obligation to protect, promote and fulfil human rights for all persons.
The new Penal Code is accessible here (in English and Portuguese).
The press release by the Centre for Human Rights can be accessed here.
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