Burundi: 24 people charged for “homosexual practices”
Twenty-four people have been charged by a court in Burundi for “homosexual practices”, a judicial source and a human rights activist in the East African country told AFP who leads a repressive campaign against homosexuals.
After interrogations which lasted about ten days, 17 men and seven women “were charged with homosexual practices and incitement to homosexual practices by the public prosecutor before being imprisoned in the central prison of Gitega”, the capital, announced Me Armel Niyongere, the president of ACAT-Burundi, who defends human rights, told AFP on Wednesday evening.
They will remain in prison until their trial, he added.< /p>
A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed their charges.
The police had arrested the 24 people on February 23 in Gitega, where members of MUCO Burundi, an NGO mobilized in the fight against AIDS, held a seminar.
Neighbors had alerted the security services after seeing teenagers of both sexes at the MUCO headquarters. Police found condoms and documents on gay rights at the scene, a judicial source told AFP.
They were accused of promoting homosexuality and homosexual acts, considered crimes punishable by imprisonment.
The Penal Code promulgated in 2009 by the late President Pierre Nkurunziza, who ruled the country with an iron fist, punishes “sexual relations with a person of the same sex”, punishable by three months to two years in prison.
His successor, Évariste Ndayishimiye, lambasted in a speech last week “homosexuals, even those who live outside the country”.
“I ask all Burundians to curse those who indulge in homosexuality because God cannot stand it. They must be banished, treated as pariahs in our country because they bring us the curse”, he declared.
In East Africa as in many countries of the continent, the LGBTQ people face precariousness and discrimination in conservative societies, whether predominantly Christian or Muslim, where homosexuality is taboo.
Since coming to power in 2020, Mr. Ndayishimiye has oscillated between signs of openness of the regime, which remains under the influence of powerful “generals”, and firm control of power with human rights violations denounced by NGOs.