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Gabon: Decriminalisation of same-sex relations a welcome step for equality, says UN expert

GENEVA (1 July 2020) – A UN human rights expert today welcomed Gabon joining the group of sub-Saharan countries to decriminalise same-sex relations between consenting adults.

On 29 June 2020 the Parliament removed the provision in the Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality, following a lower house vote on 23 June.

“I commend the State of Gabon for its decision, as it establishes a valuable protection for gays, lesbians, and bisexual, trans and other gender-diverse persons in Gabon, and lets them know that they are in a country in which their dignity and integrity is valued,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Countries around the world that still criminalise homosexuality and other forms of sexual orientation and gender identity must, without exception, take note of these proceedings and examine their own legal frameworks in order to become fully compliant with this human rights imperative,” the expert said.

“Criminalisation of homosexuality is one of the root causes of grave and pervasive human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. These forms of criminalisation of consensual sex between adults violate international human rights law,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

ENDS

Mr. Víctor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on 1 January 2018. Madrigal-Borloz is a senior visiting researcher at the Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. He served as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT. A member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, Mr Madrigal-Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons. Prior to this, he led technical work on numerous cases, reports and testimonies as Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has also worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica).

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Gabon

For more information and media requests please contact Catherine de Preux De Baets (cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org).

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / rrosariodesouza@ohchr.org) and John Newland (mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org).

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