Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Burundi’s President Évariste Ndayishimiye has said that homosexuals in his country “should be stoned”.

Responding to a reporter’s question, Mr Ndayishimiye, a fervent Catholic, said powerful nations “should keep” their aid if it comes with an obligation to give rights to homosexuals.

Some African leaders have in the past accused donor countries of trying to impose their values on the continent.

Homosexual sex is illegal in Burundi, punishable by up to two years in jail.

In an interview with last month, Ghanaian Catholic Cardinal Peter Turkson said homosexuality should not be a criminal offence and people should be helped to understand the issue better.

But his views are at odds with many conservative Christians on the continent. More than 30 African countries outlaw homosexual sex.

Talking to journalists at a press conference, President Ndayishimiye used a Bible reference to say that God was opposed to homosexuality adding that it was no longer an issue in Burundi.

He had been asked about alleged pressure from Western countries for LGBT rights to be respected.

“For me, I think that if we find these people in Burundi they should be taken to stadiums and be stoned, and doing so would not be a crime,” he said.

Mr Ndayishimiye suggested that homosexuality was like “choosing between Satan and God”.

“If you want to choose Satan now go and live in those countries [in the West] and I think those who strive to go there want to acquire those habits, they should remain there and never bring them to us,” the president added.

In a rare court case in August, seven people were sentenced to between one and two years in prison after they were found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts – a charge they denied.

Homosexual sex is also illegal in many other countries in the region, including in Uganda, which in May tightened its law further to include a possible death penalty for what is described as “aggravated homosexuality”. This includes having gay sex with someone below the age of 18 or where someone is infected with a life-long illness such as HIV.

The fresh measures led the World Bank to halt new loans to Uganda and the US to pull Uganda out of a preferential trade agreement and impose visa restrictions on key officials.

Ugandan rights groups are currently challenging the law in the courts.

Ghanaian MPs are also considering a bill that would make identifying as LGBT punishable with a three-year prison sentence. People who campaign for LGBT rights could also face up to 10 years in jail.

By Joy

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