Congo follows Uganda in proposed anti-LGBT laws

As of Monday, the Democratic Republic of Congo is considering a bill that would criminalize homosexuals and transgender people. Notably, the punishments outlined in the bill’s 37 articles as drafted by MP Steve Mbikayi in December do not include capital punishment.  Anyone found guilty of being LGBT will face a minimum of 3 years in prison. That time can go up to 5 years for homosexuals, and 12 for transgender persons. There is a fine levied in conjunction with imprisonment of 1 million Congolese francs (roughly $1,000 USD). In addition to criminalizing the behavior, the draft also promises that the DRC will pay for 3/4 of the costs to “correct hormonal disorders that may result in homosexuality.” Mbikayi cites article 40 of the Congolese constitution, justifying the bill as constitutional.

Steve Mbikayi

Image courtesy Facebook


Currently, the DRC is but a handful of African countries that have not directly criminalized homosexual behavior. Similar legislation was proposed in 2010, but was defeated without a vote. Discrimination of LGBT communities is rampant throughout the continent. There is no doubt about the open hostility towards LGBT persons across Africa. However, the motivation behind this bill may be nothing more than a publicity stunt. Riding the wave that Uganda made international headlines with their extreme law earlier this year.

Status of African nations in regard to LGBT laws

Status of African nations in regard to LGBT laws

Denis Boewen, editor of CongoForum and LGBT rights activist told Dan Littauer of LGTBQ Nation: “If I have to speculate about his motives, maybe Mbikayi wants to attract attention to himself and expand his reputation. Perhaps he has ties with churches trying to influence African countries to maintain or introduce homophobic laws.

The Roman Catholic Church has an immense hold on the Congolese people. With more than 35 million members, they hold sway over nearly half of the  population. An overwhelming majority of education in the country is provided by its schools. 60 percent of primary school graduates and 40 percent of secondary graduates are taught by Church funded schools. In addition to education, there is Koch-esque conglomerate of secondary and tertiary business including hospitals, clinics, and farms.

The international LGBT community needs to rally their opposition to laws like these. Silence is our greatest enemy in the fight for equality. The world is what we make it, together. One voice can be silenced, but millions screaming in unison cannot be ignored. Add your voice to the throng, and spread the word that humanity is better than this.