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Gabon: Situation of homosexuals; attitude of authorities and society toward homosexuals; human rights violations against homosexuals

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa
Publication Date 2 March 2007
Citation / Document Symbol GAB102416.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Gabon: Situation of homosexuals; attitude of authorities and society toward homosexuals; human rights violations against homosexuals, 2 March 2007, GAB102416.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/485ba861c.html [accessed 25 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Corroborating sources report that homosexuality is legal in Gabon (New Internationalist July 2006; Jeune Afrique 4 Sept. 2005; AFP 22 Mar. 2004; The Guardian 1 Mar. 2006; ILGA Nov. 2006) and has been since 2000 (ibid.).

However, homosexuality remains taboo for people in Gabon (AFP 22 Mar. 2004). According to a journalist interviewed by Agence France-Presse (AFP), homosexuality is generally considered an illness; the journalist gave an example of a young man who, under family pressure, had to go through initiation rites to [translation] "'reinforce his virility'" (ibid.). Furthermore, according to commentary provided in the AFP article by a homosexual Gabonese man, most homosexuals do not openly admit their homosexuality, in the sense that most of them are married and have a family (ibid.). The same man indicated that Gabonese people tolerate homosexuals as long as the homosexuals are not [translation] "seducers ... and they do not behave shockingly"; if they do, they are usually [translation] "attacked" (ibid.). The New Internationalist reports that, in Gabon, homosexuality is "severely repressed" in practice (July 2006). However, according to another homosexual man, who is in his forties and [translation] "claims to be open about his homosexuality," [translation] "attitudes have changed a great deal, and 'homosexuals are more open than they used to be'" (AFP 22 Mar. 2004).

In 2004, a Libertis cellular telephone company poster marking Valentine's Day depicted two young girls accompanied by the slogan "'first love'" and gave rise to discussions among the Gabonese people (ibid.). AFP cites the following questions posed by the government daily L'Union:

[translation]

Is Valentine's Day no longer about people of the opposite sex? Or maybe management at the cellular telephone company is aware of the situation elsewhere, which is perhaps unknown here, and wants to start a debate on sexuality between people of the same sex? Could it also be a subtle way of encouraging the practice? (ibid.)

Many Libertis customers found it humorous or were astonished (ibid).

In Libreville, there are no gay rights associations, and homosexuals have very few public meeting places (ibid.).

Further information on the situation of homosexuals in Gabon could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Agence France-Presse (AFP). 22 March 2004. "Débat autour d'une publicité suggérant l'homosexualité." (Jeune Afrique) [Accessed 2 Mar. 2007]

The Guardian [Lagos, Nigeria]. 1 March 2006. Leo Igwe. "The Same-Sex Marriage Bill."

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). November 2006. Daniel Ottossen. LGBT World Legal Wrap Up Survey. [Accessed 26 Jan. 2007]

Jeune Afrique. 4 September 2005. Alex Siewe. "Intolérance sans frontières." [Accessed 29 Jan. 2007]

New Internationalist. July 2006. No. 391. "Gabon." [Accessed 29 Jan. 2007]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Agence de presse africaine, Afrol News, AllAfrica, Amnesty International (AI), Behind the Mask, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Info Plus Gabon, Inter Press Service News Agency, Lezzone, Minorités.org, Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT), Têtu.com, United States (US) Department of State.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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