LGBT rights in Lesotho

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LGBT rights in Lesotho Lesotho
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2012[1][2]
Gender identity/expression No specific protection
Military service Unknown
Discrimination protections No specific provisions
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage not allowed
Adoption Joint adoption by same-sex couples not allowed. Single men not allowed.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Lesotho face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents.

Laws regarding same-sex sexual acts[edit]

In 2012, male same-sex activity was legalized in Lesotho.[1][2]

Male same-sex activity had previously been illegal in Lesotho as a common law offence,[3] but had not been enforced.[4] Female same-sex sexual activity has never been outlawed.[3]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Under the Marriage Act and customary law of Lesotho, marriage is only permitted for opposite-sex couples.[3]

Discrimination protections[edit]

There is no specific protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.[3]

Adoption of children[edit]

The Child Welfare and Protection Act of 2011 governs adoptions. Only married couples may adopt a child jointly. Single men and same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt.[5]

Living conditions[edit]

The U.S. Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 stated that:

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits consensual sexual relations between men, but authorities did not enforce it. The law is silent on consensual sex between women. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons faced societal discrimination and official insensitivity to this discrimination. LGBTI rights groups complained of discrimination in access to health care and participation in religious activities.

The law prohibits discrimination attributable to sex; it does not explicitly forbid discrimination against LGBTI. Matrix, an LGBTI advocacy and support group, had no reports of employment discrimination from its members. Same-sex sexual relationships were taboo in society and not openly discussed. While there were no assaults reported, LGBTI persons often did not report incidents of violence due to fear of stigma.

Matrix operated freely and had members in all 10 districts. It reported having a good working relationship with the LMPS. For instance, in December 2015 the brothers of a woman who identified herself as a lesbian forced her out of her home when they discovered her sexual identity. She took the matter to police, who intervened, and the brothers allowed her to return home.

Matrix engaged in public outreach through film screenings, radio programs, public gatherings, and social media. On May 21, Matrix organized the third International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia march. Approximately 200 individuals, mainly family and friends of LGBTI persons, marched peacefully and without incident from Lakeside (city outskirts) to Central Park in Maseru. Matrix representatives noted police officers escorting the march were generally supportive, which they attributed to Matrix’s previous outreach efforts to the LMPS. Matrix for several months also had an electronic billboard advertisement in central Maseru supporting LGBTI rights.

Addressing the media in June following the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing said the government would look into decriminalizing same-sex relationships to stop the spread of HIV. This was the first pronouncement made by a high-level government official on the issue.[6]

On 18 May 2013, the first gay pride march took place in the country.[7][8]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 2012)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 2012)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Emblem-question.svg
Right to change legal gender Emblem-question.svg
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]