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Gabon's Legislature Just Voted to End Gay Sex Ban

The upper legislative body in the African nation of Gabon voted to decriminalize sexual relations between persons of the same gender.

The African country of Gabon moved one step closer to decriminalizing gay sex Monday when their upper house voted to overturn portions of a 2019 law that outlawed same-sex sexual relations, according to Reuters. The lower house voted last week to overturn the provision, so the proposal now only awaits President Bombo’s signature to become law.

Jessye Ella Ekogha, special advisor to the president, told Reuters the measure “was adopted with a large majority of 59 votes.” The final vote had 17 against and 4 abstentions. The tally is a significant improvement over the earlier vote in the lower house, which passed 48 to 24.

While there is no indication from President Bombo’s as to his intentions, his wife was notably supportive of the move by the lower house. The French-born Sylvia Bongo had hailed the move as a “restoring a fundamental human right for its citizens: that of loving, freely, without being condemned” following news of the vote.

The move is encouraging for this country nestled on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, but Gabon still has no laws protecting LGBTQ+ persons against discrimination. In part this can be traced to the religious makeup of the country, itself caused by colonialization. CIA Factbook reports that over 42 percent of the country identify as Roman Catholic, and another 39.7 percent identify as Christian. As a result, many conservative politicians and citizens see the move as a threat to their cultural traditions.

“Forty-eight lawmakers have shaken an entire nation and its customs and traditions,” one member of the lower house who voted against the revision told Reuters at the time.

The vote was met with praise and hope from local LGBTQ+ activists and groups. Pan Africa ILGA described the vote as “a positive move for the region and should serve as an example” for other countries on the continent that continue to outlaw consensual same-sex relations.

RELATED | Africa's Gabon Votes to Decriminalize Gay Sex

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