(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Homosexuality is legal in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it has never been explicitly outlawed. The age of consent is the same as that for heterosexual couples. Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Article 40 of the Congolese Constitution: “All individuals have the right to marry a person of their choice of the opposite sex and to create a family.” There is no anti-discrimination law that serves to protect from harassment based on sexual orientation.
On 22 October 2010 the Congolese Parliament sent the Sexual Practices Against Nature Bill to the Socio-Cultural Committee as documented in the Refugee Board of Canada’s report DRC: Situation of Homosexuals. The Bill would criminalize homosexuality and zoophilia as acts against nature. It would not only criminalize same-sex sex, but also “all publications, posters, pamphlets, (or) films highlighting or likely to arouse or encourage sexual practices against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC (Section 174h3)” and “all associations that promote or defend sexual relations against nature are forbidden within the territory of the DRC” (Criminalising Homosexuality in the DRC). Those who are deemed to be breaking the law would be sentenced to 3-5 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 Congolese francs. The Bill gained widespread support both publicly and within the government, and was considered to be constitutional by the National Assembly. Legislation had still not been drafted as of the beginning of 2012, however due to the widespread support, it is likely that it will not be forgotten and remains an ever-present threat to the LGBTI society in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Subsequent research shows that general conditions haven’t changed and neither is there any progress regarding legal protection of LGBTI persons in Democratic Reubplic of Congo. A 2017 study conducted by the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo presents an analysis of the human rights situation of LGBTI persons and sex workers in its report: Landscape analysis of the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and sex workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The study concludes that not only are there no specific laws protecting LGBTI persons but also registration of LGBTI organisations is a challenge. The difficulty in getting a LGBTI organisation registered is because the process requires submission of the organisations’ mission and objectives, and would include the mention of LGBT advocacy.
No published cases have been found. Would be grateful if users of this website are able to refer us to any that they know of which involved LGBTI cases from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
Society favors the criminalization of homosexuality for it is considered to be taboo, even if not illegal. LGBTI persons are often not open about their sexual orientation because they are denied by society. Those who are open about their sexual orientation face hostility, widespread discrimination, rejection, social exclusion, and harassment. The LGBTI community lacks any sort of support services. The Groupe Hirondelles Bukavu (GHB) in South Kivu is the only support service for homosexuals in the Democratic Republic of Congo. GHB tries to provide some of those services to the LGBTI community, and it also participates on the working group against the Sexual Practices Against Nature Bill. The Sexual Practices Against Nature Bill was inspired by Ugandan ‘kill gays’ bill, and poses a threat to the future protection and freedom of the LGBTI community.
According to DRC: Situation of Homosexuals, there are no reports of police harassment. On September 6, 2010, authorities in South Kivu intervened to prevent a mob from lynching a 21 year-old lesbian woman. Despite the fact that homosexual relationships may be criminalized through a wide interpretation of the public decency provision in the Congolese Penal Code Art. 176 (as reported in DRC:Situation of Homosexuals), in practice prosecutions are very rare.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
We are not currently aware of any organisations working with LGBTI persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but welcome suggestions.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We do not currently list any specialists on LGBTI issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but we welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Rhiannon Archer