Newspapers in Gabon reported today that two gay men who allegedly married last month in that African nation were arrested Jan. 8 near the capital city of Libreville.
It was not clear what the charges against the two men might be since, unlike Cameroon on its north, Gabon is not one of the 83 countries with laws against homosexual activity. One of the men was identified as “Sylvain.” The other was not named.
The English-language news site of Gabonews published an account of the arrest, as did French-language Koaci. A later article in Koaci stated that a third man was arrested for helping to arrange the wedding, which reportedly was attended by more than 100 people.
“In Gabon, gay marriage is considered a ‘abomination that is inconsistent with the morals of society,’ in the words of Justice Minister Ida Reteno. This suggests that this couple will never have a legal title to their union. But what is done is done and the seeds of social and non-legal recognition of homosexual couples are already planted.”
The detained suspects denied that they were even married, Gabonews said:
“The two men who got married traditionally the 30th December at PK8 (outskirts of Libreville), were arrested and placed in custody on Wednesday afternoon, at the initiative of the court of the Republic of Libreville.
“General Attorney Sidonie Flora Ouwe sent two of her deputies and a unit of the judicial police (PJ) with a mandate to bring the two men. … The two men did not resist and were immediately taken to the station for interrogation in the presence of two representatives of the general attorney.
“According to a reliable source, the two men have denied getting married on the evening of 30 December. Instead, they said it was rather their gay friends who have formalized their union. ‘I only provided a venue for them to celebrate their marriage,’ said Sylvain presented as ‘bride’ of December 30.
This version did not convince investigators who firmly believe that the two men are indeed the married couple.
The event immediately sparked outrage from everyone in Libreville and especially on social networks like Facebook. It is clear that people are neither ready nor want this to happen in Gabon.
Others had called the general attorney to take up this case to deter other similar tendencies. Their appeal seems to have been heard. Sidonie Flora Ouwe, decided to take the bull by the horns. An investigation has been officially opened.
In response to these events, Minister of Family and Social Affairs Mme. Honorine Nzet Biteghe issued a statement on video (in French) that same-sex marriage is not allowed in Gabon.
- Gay marriage: the government weighs in (Gambonews, Jan. 10, 2014)
- Related YouTube video of Jan. 9, 2014 (in French): “No same sex marriage in Gabon. We do not recognize homosexuality. Family is man and woman,” says Minister of Family and Social Affairs Mme. Honorine Nzet Biteghe
- Zambia official seeks probe of same-sex brides, grooms — April 2013 (76crimes.com)
- Jailed for first try at gay wedding, Malawian wants another — December 2012 (76crimes.com)
- Archive of coverage of Nigerian Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill