Sao Tome and Principe LGBTI Resources

 (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 criminalised in the Penal Code of 1886, inherited from the Portuguese Colonial Era. Article 71 Paragraph 4 criminalises ‘those who surrender to the usual practice of vices against nature’.  Those who are convicted of habitually committing such acts are to be sent to labour camps, while for lesser offenses they are subjected to fines or restrictions.

The criminalisation of homosexuality violates the Constitution of São Tomé et Principe, which guarantees that all citizens are equal before the law without discrimination.  

During the 2011 Universal Periodic Review (UPR), representatives of São Tomé et Principe vowed that the government planned to decriminalize homosexuality by the summer of 2011 (PrideSource). Nevertheless as of May 2012, no evidence can be found to suggest any amendments have been implemented that do, in fact, decriminalise homosexuality.


NNo published cases have been found. Would be grateful if users of this website would be able to refer us to any that they know of which involved LGBTI cases seeking asylum on these grounds from the São Tomé et Principe or having been tried for LGBTI ‘offenses’ in their country.


The LGBTI community faces societal discrimination in São Tomé et Principe. As a result many LGBTI people stay largely in the closet.

As of 2003 it was reported by ‘Behind the Mask’ that there was a ‘live and let live attitude’ in São Tomé et Principe and there was very little judgment of homosexual lifestyles. An interviewee describes it as stuck in a ‘time warp of about 100 years when LGBTI issues were not yet discussed (Your Basic Little Paradise)’.  Since then, however, homophobia has become pervasive across Africa. Despite the spread of homophobia over the last decade, São Tomé et Principe is geographically separated from the continent and therefore may have been influenced to a lesser extent by the trends on the continent (Globalgayz).

There was a vote to decriminalise same-sex sexual relations in 2011, but there is no evidence to suggest that it has been removed from the Penal Code. Yet it is commonly accepted that the courts do not prosecute homosexual activity anymore since doing so explicitly violates the country’s constitutional principles of equality before the law (PrideSource).


No NGOs were found that specifically focus on the rights of the LGBTI community in São Tomé et Principe. We would be grateful if users of this website could refer us to any that they know of. 


No Country of Origin specialists were found that focus on the rights of the LGBTI community in São Tomé et Principe.



Researched by: Rhiannon Archer