LGBT rights in Rwanda

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LGBT rights in Rwanda
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1980[1]
Gender identity/expression Legal to change gender, but requires surgery[1]
Military service Yes[1]
Discrimination protections Yes[1]
Family rights
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex relationships[1]
Adoption Yes[1]

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people living in Rwanda face discrimination not faced by non-LGBT people. While neither homosexuality nor homosexual acts are illegal, homosexuality is considered a taboo topic, and there is no significant public discussion of this issue in any region of the country.[2] No special legislative protections are afforded to LGBT citizens,[2] and same-sex marriages are not recognized by the state, as the Constitution of Rwanda provides that "[o]nly civil monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is recognized".[3] LGBT Rwandans, however, have reported being harassed, blackmailed, and even arrested by the police under various laws dealing with public order and morality.[4]

On 16 December 2009, the national parliament debated whether to make homosexuality a criminal offense, with a punishment of 5–10 years' imprisonment.[5] This legislation was similar to the controversial anti-homosexuality bill in the neighboring country of Uganda.[6] Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama, however, condemned and refuted reports that the government intended to criminalize homosexual acts, saying that sexual orientation is a private matter, not a state business.[7]


Kingdom of Rwanda[edit]

In old Kingdom of Rwanda, male homosexuality was common among Hutu and Tutsi youth, especially young Tutsi being trained at court.[8]

Government and politics[edit]

Political parties[edit]

Under Rwandan electoral laws, most of the political parties are aligned with, if not an extension of, the ruling party. The two Rwandan political parties that are not a part of the ruling coalition, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party, have not taken an official position on LGBT rights. The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has been attempting to become registered with the government, although it has not taken any formal position on LGBT rights.

Human rights[edit]

Since 2005, the Horizons Community Association of Rwanda has been doing some public advocacy on behalf of LGBT rights, although its members have often been harassed by the government.[9]

Society and culture[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
There are no laws that criminalize sexual orientation or consensual same-sex sexual conduct, and cabinet-level government officials expressed support for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons. LGBTI persons reported societal discrimination and abuse, and LGBTI rights groups reported occasional harassment by neighbors and police. There were no known reports of physical attacks against LGBTI persons, nor were there any reports of LGBTI persons fleeing the country due to harassment or attack.[10]

Religious beliefs[edit]

In 2007, the Anglican Church in Rwanda condemned "the non biblical behaviors" of the European and American churches and insisted that they would not support the ordination of gay clergy.[11] and have vowed to refuse donations from churches that support LGBT rights.[12]

Likewise, The Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda called homosexuality, "moral genocide" and against Rwandan culture because sexuality may only be expressed within the bounds of a marriage between a man and a woman.[13]

Family and marriage[edit]

Rwanda does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or similar unions. Most gay people who have been interviewed stated that they are not open about their sexuality to their family for fear of being rejected.[14]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Legal since January 1, 1980)[1]
Equal age of consent Yes[1]
Anti-discrimination laws in hate speech and violence Yes[1]
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes[1]
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes[1]
Same-sex marriage No (Constitutional ban since 2003)[1]
Recognition of same-sex couples No[1]
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples Yes[1]
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes[1]
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes[1]
Right to change legal gender Yes[1]
Access to IVF for lesbians Emblem-question.svg
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Emblem-question.svg
MSMs allowed to donate blood Emblem-question.svg

See also[edit]