11-22-2008

Burundi

On this date the parliament of BURUNDI, one of the ten poorest countries in the world, and one of the smallest (at only 11,000 square miles–about the size of Belgium) unanimously voted to outlaw homosexuality. The irony here is that on the very same date the parliament also adopted a new set of laws abolishing the death penalty for the first time in the troubled nation’s history. The sweeping law was seen as an important reform. It incorporated parts of international law on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It includes important safeguards against torture as well as sexual violence against women and children.

But the new laws also criminalize homosexuality.

The law was overwhelmingly passed by Burundi’s Parliament, 90-0 with ten abstentions. It still needs to be ratified by the Senate and signed by President Pierre Nkurunziza, which is seen as a mere formality. Nkurunziza is described as an ex-Hutu rebel leader and born-again Christian, whose presidency has been marred by accusations of assassinations and torture. Burundi is still emerging from a twelve-year civil war that engulfed neighboring Rwanda.

But its nice to know they took the time out to outlaw homosexuality. Good luck with that.