(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Sodomy is prohibited as a common law offence punishable by death or a lesser punishment at the discretion of the court.
Only sexual acts between men are prohibited under Swazi law.
In 2005, the Swazi government planned to include a prohibition of all same-sex acts in the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, with proposed penalties of a minimum 2 year imprisonment. This reform was not adopted, however.
No asylum cases of LGBTI persons fleeing Swaziland are listed here, but we welcome suggestions.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
The common law offence of sodomy has not recently been used to arrest gay men, according to the US State Department 2018 report. While the Swazi government advised the Human Rights Council that no one has been prosecuted for sexual orientation offences to date, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported in 2012 that persons engaged in same-sex relationships are ‘arrested and jailed’.
During the Universal Periodic Review carried out in October 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council, the UN urged the Swazi government to decriminalise same-sex relations and to take steps to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, Swaziland has rejected these recommendations. Again in the Universal Periodic Review of May 2016, the UN Human Rights Council urged the country to take action againt discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Swazi government accepted the recommendation to ensure right to health for the LGBTI populations, and noted the recommendation to decriminalise same-sex relations, but no legislative changes have been made since.
Social discrimination against LGBTI populations is widespread, thereby compelling LGBTI persons to conceal their sexual orientation in the country, according to the US State Department and Freedom House. Gay men and lesbian women who are open about their identity face censure and exclusion from the chiefdom patronage system, which can result in eviction from one’s home. Chiefs, pastors and members of government are hostile to LGBTI persons and refer to same-sex sexual conduct as neither Swazi nor Christian, according to the same report.
Despite societal pressure and discrimination, the first ever swazi pride parade took place in June 2018. The event was organised by a local group, the Rock of Hope, with hundreds of people participating. It occurred with no incidents, and the swazi LGBT community is also engaging in public discussions with religious leaders more recently, according to the US State Departement 2018 report.
According to Pambazuka News, Swaziland’s Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini, has described homosexuality as ‘an abnormality and a sickness’.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
Availability of organisations is scarce due to their difficulty to register with the government.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We have no specialist on LGBTI issues in Swaziland, but would welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Minos Mouzourakis