(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
There is no law against homosexuality in Burkina Faso. The law does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, education or healthcare. However, there is no law protecting against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Penal Code of Burkina Faso highlights the state’s prohibition on racial, religious, regional, sexist or caste-based discrimination, but it does not explicitly mention sexuality or gender identity.
Article 410 of the country’s Penal Code criminalises acts ‘contrary to morality’ that take place in public, in a private place open to public view or in front of a minor. Such acts are punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of 50,000 – 600,000 West African CFA Francs. Recent research in the country did not uncover reports of LGBTI persons being prosecuted under Article 410, though all LGBTI and other persons met were ‘acutely aware of the need for discretion’.
Article 411 considers ‘any act of a sexual nature contrary to morality’ as an attack on decency, but offers no further clarification.
In 2011, Burkina Faso abstained from the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 17/19 ‘Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity’ which requested a study be carried out on discriminatory laws and practices regarding LGBTI persons.
No published cases have been found. We would be grateful if users of this website could please refer us to any LGBTI asylum cases from Burkina Faso.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
The LGBTI community in Burkina Faso faces social discrimination based on sexual orientation. Research by the Danish Institute for Human Rights found that 63% of the population thought that homosexuality was ‘a bad thing’ or should be eradicated, while 72% of women and 84% of men were in favour of laws against homosexuality such as those in force in other African countries. Interviewees spoke of the need to be ‘discrete’ about sexual orientation, and to avoid physical manifestations of same-sex relationships in public.
This same study reports that LGBTI focus group participants in Burkina Faso felt that social ostracism and exclusion could endure for a lifetime, and were amongst the worst fears of African LGBTI persons. Burkinabé participants reported that, for LGBTI persons who had been or were married, discovery could lead to being denied access to children by extended families. Participants felt that in patrilineal societies, women in same-sex relationships suffer most from such deprivation.
In March 2013, a homosexual couple was forced out of the neighbourhood of Wemtenga (in Ouagadougou, the capital) by hundreds from the village who demonstrated and claimed the couple set a bad example for local children. The US Department of State reports that no legal action was taken against the demonstrators.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
Regarding the position of NGOs, the 2012 US Department of State Human Rights Country Report states that ‘LGBT organizations had no legal presence in the country but existed unofficially. There were no reports of government or societal violence against such organisations, although incidents were sometimes not reported due to stigma or intimidation.’
Swedish research found that LGBTI associations were registering under different themes in order to remain in operation. One organisation, for example, supports homosexual and transgender persons and carries out HIV/AIDS awareness raising, but is registered as an organisation ‘for the protection of marginalised and estranged individuals’.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We have no specialist on LGBTI issues in Burkina Faso, but would welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Jo Moore