MEMBERS of Parliament want a law against homosexuality enacted. Currently, there is no such law in Rwanda but MPs consider homosexuality illegal.
Presently, there are fewer cases of homosexuality in Rwanda compared to other neighbouring countries. Most of those cases have been recorded in prisons, officials say.
“We don’t have a specific law on homosexuality, but we have a family law which states that a person only gets married to another person of the opposite sex,” Deputy Francis Kaboneka said.
He remarked that homosexual cases are not yet many in the country, but added: “We need to have a law against this vice.”
Deputy Henriette Sebera blamed the Ministries of Gender and Family Planning; and that of Youths and Culture for not taking measures on the vice.
“They (ministries) should look into that before it is out of hand. I have heard of such cases in prisons, but I believe they are nowhere outside,” Sebera said.
She argued that MPs should table a motion on it and come up with a law against the practice of homosexuality in Rwanda.
“Homosexuality is automatically illegal in our country; our culture only allows a man to have a relationship with a woman, and that is why anybody caught in that act should be punished,” she added.
Deputy Ezekias Rwabuhihi said that the evolution of the societies is dynamic and fast and so should the laws.
He said: “As society changes then the laws should always be changing, too. The constitution states it clearly that a man gets married to one woman nothing more than that; whoever comes up with something different should considered a criminal.”
Judicial practitioners have different views on homosexuality and believe it is not yet in Rwanda.
The chairman of Kigali Bar Association, Gatera Gashabana, said: “We currently don’t have such cases in Rwanda that is why we don’t have a specific law against homosexuality.”
On the Penal Code not having any provision for punishment of homosexuality related crimes, Gashabana said: “If we happen to have such a case then we would refer to some articles of immorality in the Penal Code.”
Christopher Niwemugabo, another independent lawyer, said: “Since we don’t have a specific law on the practice of gay, then it can not be categorized as a crime.
“The punishment can come up if only there was use of force, but if the two agreed upon, then there is no reason why they should be punished.”
The Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, said that the Penal Code is being reviewed and punishments for homosexuality have been considered. “Issues of prostitution and homosexuality are sensitive but the government has more concerns to give prominence to than those,” he said.
The few cases of the vice in Rwanda have been reported in prisons, Nyamirambo Sector, Biryogo Cell and they especially involve youths.
While Rwanda has few cases, homosexuality has of late become a major concern in several African countries and is ripping the Anglican Church apart worldwide.
Recently the Ugandan government launched an anti-gay campaign after homosexuals came out openly to fight for their rights. Mauritania, Nigeria and Sudan have imposed a capital punishment on homosexuality.
Meanwhile Rwanda’s Anglican Church joined the growing list of African churches which oppose homosexuality. Recently, the Church announced that it will ordain three American bishops next year, in a move aimed at thwarting their US affiliate that endorsed gay priests in 2004.
Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, head of Rwanda’s Anglican Church, said: “Even when the government decides to legalise homosexuality our church will not accept it its totally illegal and un-Godly.”
He reiterated that homosexuality is against the Rwandan culture and the government would not adopt it. “Man was meant to reproduce and something contrary to that is destruction,” Kolini said.
In the past one month, Kenya and Uganda anointed three American bishops who will serve in the US for Anglican Church.