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Africa Cup of Nations a Chance to Check out Homophobia

By Melanie Nathan, January 31, 2024

The Africa Cup of Nations, sometimes referred to as the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations for sponsorship reasons, or simply AFCON or CAN, is the main international men's association football competition in Africa. It is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football, and was first held in 1957. Since that date the climate for LGBTQI+ Africans has mostly become worse in most countries, with very few decriminalizing from the inherited Colonial Penal Codes. The problem is most Africans will tell you that being gay or lesbian is un-African. They will tell you that homosexuality is a western import. However this fails the truth. The truth is homophobia is the import courtesy AMERICA EVANGELICALS AND EUROPEAN COLONIALISTS. IN GENERAL: The best countries in Africa for relative decency with regard to LGBTQI+ people through decriminalization and elements of equality include South Africa (full equality) , Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Angola, and Mozambique.

SO which countries' teams in the quarter finals have continued the myths AND MAINTAIN THESE AWFUL LAWS and climates - Well bearing in mind over 30 countries criminalize and the remaining out of 54 are mostly homophobic even without criminalizing laws.

ANGOLA RECENTLY DECRIMINALIZED but still harbors a great deal of homophobia. Colonized by Portugal in 1575, with independence in 1975. It took over fifty years since independence with deeply entrenched homophobia to revoke the anti gay clause in the criminal code.

SOUTH AFRICA: Colonized by Dutch in 1652 and British 1822 who duked it out with the British winning and becoming a white voter only Republic helmed by Apartheid (1949 - during British rule) and then gaining independence in 1961. The country became a fully sovereign nation state within the British Empire, in 1934 following enactment of the Status of the Union Act. The monarchy came to an end on 31 May 1961, replaced by a republic as the consequence of a 1960 referendum, which legitimized the country becoming the Republic of South Africa. Apartheid continued to 1990. It was a Mandela led South Africa that yielded a new constitution that gave LGBTqI+ people full and absolute equality.

CAPE VERDE: The islands off the west coast of Africa that constitute Cabo Verde were uninhabited until they were colonized by Portugal in the mid-15th century. After centuries under Portuguese rule, Cabo Verde won its independence in 1975, and Praia, on the island of Santiago, became the country's capital.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Cape Verde are afforded greater protections than those in many other African countries. Homosexual activity has been legal in Cape Verde since 2004. Additionally, since 2008, employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been banned, making Cape Verde one of the few African countries to have such protections for LGBT people. Nevertheless, Cape Verde does not recognize same-sex unions or marriages, meaning that same-sex couples may still face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Households headed by same-sex couples are also not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

GUINEA: Its current boundaries were determined during the colonial period by the Berlin Conference (1884–1885) and the French, who ruled Guinea until 1958.

Guinea criminalizes same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment and a fine. Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 2016, which criminalises ‘indecent acts or acts against nature’. This provision carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine. Both men and women are criminalised under this law. Guinea has criminalized same-sex sexual activity since at least its 1998 Penal Code.

In 2016 a new Penal Code was adopted, in which the criminalising provision was maintained and substantively unchanged. There is limited evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, with LGBT people being occasionally subject to arrest. Public reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people in recent years are rare due to widespread social stigma which prevents them from reporting incidents. HOWEVER at AHRC we receive regular such reports.

he modern-day country of Guinea lies on the West coast of Africa. The country was initially colonized by France and was referred to as French Guinea prior to gaining its independence in 1958. Once the country gained its independence, it simply became known as Guinea.

RELIGION GUINEA 89% Muslim, 7% Christian, with 2% adhering to indigenous religious beliefs in 2022.

MALI: Mali fell under French colonial rule in 1892. By 1893, the French appointed a civilian governor of the territory they called Soudan Français (French Sudan), but active resistance to French rule continued. By 1905, most of the area was under firm French control.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Mali face legal and societal ostracization and violence. Although same-sex sexual activity is not illegal in Mali, LGBT people face widespread discrimination and persecution among the broader population. According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 98 percent of Malian adults believed that homosexuality is considered something society should not accept, which was the highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed.

The morality laws in Mali prohibit "attacks on morality", and states these laws are used to target LGBT persons; these laws are actively enforced.

RELIGION MALI 95% of the population is Muslim. Sharia law looms and Jihadists are pointing to this country in the Sahel. Let us kill the queers!

NIGERIA: Nigeria is a country in West Africa. It was colonized by the British in 1884 with independence attained in 1960.

NIGERIA is dangerously anti gay in the Muslim North and the Christian South and the anti gay sentiment and extreme homophobia bind the two regions, politically. Simply stated! Nigeria is one of the African countries that has heightened anti-LGBTQI+ climate with extremely onerous new legislation. The Same-Sex Prohibition Act was signed into law by President Johnathan Goodluck back in 20145, and remains unchallenged. People can get up to 16 years in prison and in the Muslim North subject to Sharia law and death by stoning.

RELIGION NIGERIA - North Muslim and South Christian

COTE D'IVOIRE (IVORY COAST) In 1842 the French declared the area their protectorate. Formal French colonial rule was introduced in the 1880s following the scramble for Africa. In 1904, Ivory Coast became part of French West Africa until 1960 when the country regained independence from France.

It is a relatively tolerant country and more so in the city of Abidjan for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in a region where homosexuality is mostly illegal, and sexual minorities face persecution, discrimination and violence. Ivory Coast is one of a minority of African countries - around 20 of the 54 nations on the continent - which do not explicitly criminalize homosexuality or same-sex acts yet is till dangerous. However recently morality laws have been used to arrest LGBTQI+ people.

RELIGION COTE D'IVOIRE: According to the 2021 census, it is professed by 42.5% of the total population... and 39% Christian

DRC- Democratic Republic of Congo: The DRC was colonized in two phases: by King Leopold II from 1885 to 1908 and by the Belgium state from 1908 to 30 June 1960. The reign of Leopold II and the reign of the Belgian colonial administration were characterized by the looting of precious resources and human rights abuses.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) face discrimination and legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal for both males and females in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although LGBT individuals may still be targeted for prosecution under public indecency provisions. All said and done DRC is extremely homophobic with most people against sexuality minorities, making it a place where violence and persecution cause many from DRC to flee their country and seek asylum abroad. RELIGION DRC: 102 Million people - 50 percent Roman Catholic, 20 percent mainline Protestant, 9 percent Kimbanguist, and 9 percent Muslim.

Please note because a country may not have specific criminalizing laws, often indecency laws target LGBTQI+ people and often the climate is worse because having no laws exacerbate retribution through so called mob justice, corrective rape, vigilante justice and more.


Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African Human Rights Coalition is a qualified country of origin expert witness in the United States and global immigration courts, providing expert written country conditions reports and testimony for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, non-binary, LGBTQI + asylum seekers from 20 African Countries, to include activists, allies and human rights defenders. Melanie also consults multinational corporations regarding briefings and policy for operations and issue impacted by anti-homosexuality laws and country conditions.


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