The total number of countries with anti-LGBT laws just dropped to 69, thanks to Angolan lawmakers' decision to overhaul the country’s 1886 penal code. They dropped a 'vices against nature' provision, which was historically used to prosecute against gay sex.
Yesterday, January 23, Angola became the first country in 2019 to decriminalise gay sex. Making it a well-rounded win, lawmakers also passed a bill that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment. The bill passed with 155 votes in favor, one against and seven abstentions.
Angola’s previous penal code was written by the Portuguese when they ruled the country in 1886. As with many African countries, laws against homosexuality are remnants of the era of colonial rule — remnants we've held on to while the rest of the world has evolved.
Thankfully, that is slowly but surely beginning to change. Angola first started making steps towards protecting the LGBTQ community in 2018, when the government legally recognized an LGBTI rights group, Iris Angola.
Last year, India and Trinidad and Tobago decriminalised homosexuality. The Indian Supreme Court ruled that the anti-gay British-era penal code, similar to Angola’s, was unconstitutional. Lebanon, Tunisia, Singapore, Jamaica and Kenya also seem set to do the same this year.
Meanwhile, it looks like Nigeria is regressing. Earlier this week, the public relations officer of the Zone 2 Police Command, Mrs. Dolapo Badmos asked homosexuals to leave the country or face the law. Here's to hoping we one day live in a country that respects the rights of everyone.