(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Article 88 of Benin’s Penal Code of 1996 provides:
‘Anyone who commits an indecent act or an act against nature with an individual of the same sex will be punished by one to three years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 to 500,000 francs.’
Sources diverge on whether this criminal provision exists in Beninese law, however, the US State Department and the International Lesbian and Gay Association hold that same-sex sexual activity is not expressly criminalised. In contrast, the University of Oxford’s Forced Migration Review recently confirmed Benin’s statements at the 2012 Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review to the effect that Article 88 of the Penal Code is the applicable law.
No asylum cases of LGBTI persons fleeing Benin are listed here, but we welcome suggestions.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
In its detailed 2013 report entitled Making Love a Crime, Amnesty International reports that the “issue of homosexuality, the phenomenon is not ignored but is marginal. Families would never allow their children to be taken to court for such an offence, so no criminal ruling has ever been rendered, although it is provided for by law.”
Information on the treatment of Benin’s LGBTI population remains scarce, as per a 2003 report of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board. In recent years, the US State Department found no evidence of prosecution, overt societal discrimination or violence based on sexual orientation. Though socially discouraged, homosexual conduct is reportedly neither prosecuted nor persecuted.
A growing number of persons in Benin have openly declared same-sex relations, although the LGBTI community has remained largely disorganised, according to the US State Department’s most recent report.
Nevertheless, Hirondelle Club Benin, an LGBTI association founded in March 2013 in Cotonou, reported as of April 2013 that 15 adolescents were evicted and driven to homelessness on grounds of their sexual orientation.
During the 2012 Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, Benin was encouraged to decriminalise consensual same-sex acts and to promote educational programmes and appropriate policies to guarantee the security of its citizens regardless of their sexual orientation. The Beninese government has not expressed any clear intention to reform its laws, however.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
No NGOs working with LGBTI persons in Benin are listed here, but we welcome suggestions.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
Dr Benjamin N. Lawrance
Professor of History at the University of Arizona
Benjamin N. Lawrance is the former Conable Chair in International Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology and is currently a professor of history at the University of Arizona.He has conducted field research in West Africa since 1997 and published extensively about political and social conditions. He has served as an expert witness in the asylum cases for over 130 West Africans in the US, Europe and Canada which have involved human trafficking, citizenship, statelessness, female genital cutting, gender issues, gender identity, ethnic and religious violence, and witchcraft accusations.
Researched by: Minos Mouzourakis