[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said [press release] Wednesday that a draft anti-homosexuality bill in Chad will represent a major step backwards for human rights in the country if passed into law. The proposed amendment to the penal code would criminalize [AP report] same-sex conduct in Chad, carrying the threat of jail sentences of 15 to 20 years and a fine ranging from USD $100 to $1,000. AI Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa Stephen Cockburn stated that the criminalization of individuals based only on their gender identity and sexual orientation “violates Chad’s international and regional human rights obligations, and is a big step back for tolerance and respect for human rights in the country.” He went on to say that after analyzing the draft bill, AI has become deeply concerned about the vagueness of its language, as it may allow for people to be investigated and prosecuted based solely on a rumor. If passed, he said, the bill in its current form will encourage homophobia and discrimination. Chad’s government and parliament were encouraged to make sure that all laws adopted respect fundamental human rights principles.
This draft bill comes just weeks after similar legislation was proposed in Gambia. Earlier this month Gambia’s National Assembly passed [JURIST report] a bill that imposes imprisonment for some homosexual acts, amending the criminal code to bring life sentences for “aggravated homosexuality.” It is also similar to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act [text, PDF] which was struck down [JURIST report] last month. One week later Ugandan Attorney General Peter Nyomb appealed [JURIST report] the constitutional court ruling. Many see the anti-homosexuality acts as a reaction to major legislative reforms in support of same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in the US and other Western nations. Last November a Ugandan religious leader bolstered [JURIST report] the law when it was still a bill. In February of that year Ugandan MP David Bahati announced that clauses mandating the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” would be dropped [JURIST report] from the controversial bill. In 2010 US President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the US Congress in denouncing the bill [JURIST report]. Roughly two-thirds [BBC report, map] of African nations criminalize homosexuality, according to an Amnesty International report published earlier this year.