32 anti-gay African leaders, 32 smiling Obama photos

Countries with anti-gay laws. (Click on the image for the full list.)
Countries with anti-gay laws. (Click on the image for the full list.)

The issue of African countries imprisoning LGBTI people for their sexual orientation wasn’t on the agenda at this week’s United States/Africa summit in Washington, D.C.
Instead, President Obama spoke about security, trade and economic development. Then, on Aug. 5, he and First Lady Michelle Obama posed for friendly photos with 32 leaders of countries with anti-gay laws that provide for punishments ranging from a few months in prison to the death penalty.
Here are those photos; here are those anti-gay laws:
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and Mrs. Mariam Mint Ahmed Dit Tekber.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and Mrs. Mariam Mint Ahmed Dit Tekber.

Mauritania
The Penal Code of Mauritania provides for public execution by stoning for any Muslim man who commits “an indecent act or an act against nature with an individual of his sex.” The penalty is less for women who engage in same-sex relations. (ILGA’s State-Sponsored Homophobia report of 2014 is the source of this and other descriptions of countries’ anti-gay laws.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and Mrs. Qamar Ali Omar.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and Mrs. Qamar Ali Omar.

Somalia
In parts of Somalia where the Penal Code is in effect, the “carnal intercourse with a person of the same sex” is punishable by a prison sentence of three months to three years. Where sharia law is in effect, the sentence can be death by stoning.
Stonings in Somalia have been reported of lesbians in 2001 and a gay teenage boy in 2013.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Dr. Samura Wilson Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Dr. Samura Wilson Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone
The Offences against the Person Act of Sierra Leone calls for life imprisonment for “buggery.” (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of repression of LGBTI people in Sierra Leone.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda

 Uganda
Under the Penal Code of Uganda, “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is punishable by a life sentence. The country’s  Anti-Homosexuality Act, signed into law in February by President Yoweri Museveni, had provided for imprisonment for five to seven years for anyone convicted of “promoting homosexuality” or who “in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.” But it was overturned on Aug. 1 by the Constitutional Court of Uganda.
After the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill last December, about a dozen people were arrested and charged with violations of the earlier anti-gay Penal Code. (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Uganda.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Jakaye Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Mrs. Salma Kikwete.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Jakaye Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Mrs. Salma Kikwete.

Tanzania
The Penal Code of Tanzania provides for a prison sentence of 30 years to life for “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of
nature.” (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Tanzania.)
The Obamas pose with The Honorable Dr. Guy Scott, Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, and Dr. Charlotte Harland Scott.
The Obamas pose with The Honorable Dr. Guy Scott, Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, and Dr. Charlotte Harland Scott.

Zambia
The Penal Code of Zambia calls for a prison sentence of from 15 years to life for having “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” including permitting “a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature.”
Zambian police arrested at least six people last year, including two men who were incarcerated for more than a year awaiting the outcome of a trial that eventually resulted in their acquittal.
One AIDS activist was arrested in 2013 for suggesting on television that the nation’s anti-gay law should be repealed because it impedes the fight against AIDS. Vice President Guy Scott said the arrest was necessary for political reasons: “The problem with this guy going on television was that we had to do something because if we had done absolutely nothing we would have got a bollocking from all these evangelical churches.”
(For more information, see this blog’s extensive coverage of repression of LGBTI people in Zambia.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.

Kenya
The Penal Code in Kenya provides for up to 14 years in prison for “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.” (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Kenya.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigeria
The Criminal Code of Nigeria provides for up to 14 years in prison for “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” including male-male and female-female intimacy. In Nigeria’s northern states, sharia law is in effect, which provides for the death penalty for male-male intimacy and whipping or imprisonment for female-female intimacy.
Also, Nigeria this year enacted a law outlawing gay organizations, public displays of affection by same-sex couples, and same-sex marriage. Penalties range from 10 to 14 years.  (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Nigeria.)
In recent months, dozens of people have been reported arrested in Nigeria for homosexuality-related offenses. (For more information, see the article “102 who are in prison for being gay, 75 more awaiting trial.”)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia, and Mrs. Zineb Jammeh
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia, and Mrs. Zineb Jammeh

The Gambia
The Criminal Code in The Gambia provides for a 14-year prison sentence for anyone who has “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” including both men and women.
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh frequently rails against homosexuality, which he calls “satanic,” a threat to population growth,  “anti-god, anti-human, and anti-civilization.”
“If you are convicted of homosexuality in this country, there will be no mercy for offenders. We will put you in the female wing of the prison,” Jammeh says. “If we catch you, you will regret why you are born.”
Earlier this year, he called homosexuals “vermin” and said his government would fight them as it fights malaria-causing mosquitoes.

(For more information, see this blog’s coverage of The Gambia.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency James Alix Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency James Alix Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles.

Seychelles
The Criminal Code of the Seychelles calls for 14 years in prison for anyone convicted of having “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.” The country also has a law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, and Mrs. Gertrude Hendrina Mutharika
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, and Mrs. Gertrude Hendrina Mutharika

Malawi
The Penal Code of Malawi provides for up to 14 years in prison for “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” but enforcement of that law has been suspended pending a court review of its constitutionality. (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Malawi.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan

South Sudan
The Penal Code of South Sudan provides for up to 10 years in prison for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person,” male or female.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and Ms. Roman Tesfaye.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and Ms. Roman Tesfaye.

Ethiopia
The Criminal Code in Ethiopia provides for prison sentences of one to 10 years for “whoever performs with another person of the same sex a
homosexual act.” (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Ethiopia.)
The Obamas pose with The Honorable Phandu Skelemani, M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana.
The Obamas pose with The Honorable Phandu Skelemani, M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana.

Botswana
The Penal Code of Botswana provides for up to seven years in prison for anyone convicted of having “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.” Simultaneously, however, Botswana law also forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Abdalla A.M. Alteni, Prime Minister of the State of Libya.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Abdalla A.M. Alteni, Prime Minister of the State of Libya.

Libya
The Penal Code of Libya provides for up to five years in prison for same-sex intercourse, as well as any other extramarital sexual relations.
The Obamas pose with The Honorable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, G.C.S.K., F.R.C.P. Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius.
The Obamas pose with The Honorable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, G.C.S.K., F.R.C.P. Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius.

Mauritius
ILGA’s report on “State-Sponsored Homophobia” states that the Criminal Code of Mauritius calls for a prison sentence of up to five years for sodomy, but adds: “in 2007, the Sexual Offences Bill was proposed, which would delete the crime of sodomy. … (However) it is unclear if this Bill has become law yet.” Mauritius also has a law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, and Mrs. Chantal Biya
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, and Mrs. Chantal Biya

Cameroon
The Penal Code of Cameroon provides for prison sentences of six months to five years for same-sex relations. Cameroon is one of the world’s most repressive countries for LGBTI people, including the July 2013 murder of anti-AIDS and pro-LGBTI rights activist Eric Lembembe. (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Cameroon.)
About 20 people are currently in prison or awaiting trial on homosexuality charges in Cameroon. (For more information, see the article “102 who are in prison for being gay, 75 more awaiting trial.”)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, and Ms. Denise Bucumi.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, and Ms. Denise Bucumi.

Burundi
The Penal Code of Burundi provides for prison terms of three months to two years for those convicted of having “sexual relations with someone of the same sex.”
The Obamas pose with His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, and Mrs. Lordina Dramani Mahama.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, and Mrs. Lordina Dramani Mahama.

Ghana
The Criminal Code of Ghana provides for prison terms of up to three years for consensual “unnatural carnal knowledge” between men.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, President of the Republic of Togo.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, President of the Republic of Togo.

Togo
The Penal Code of Togo provides for prison sentences of one to three years for “crimes against nature with an individual of the same sex.” (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Togo.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, and Mrs. Marieme Sall.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, and Mrs. Marieme Sall.

Senegal
The Penal Code of Senegal calls for a prison sentence of from one to five years for anyone who commits “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex.”
At least two people are currently in prison in Senegal for homosexual activity. (For more information about violence and repression of LGBTI people in Senegal, see this blog’s coverage of Senegal.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Dr. Ikililou Dhoinine, President of the Union of the Comoros and Ms. Hadidja Abubakar Ikililou Dhoinine.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Dr. Ikililou Dhoinine, President of the Union of the Comoros and Ms. Hadidja Abubakar Ikililou Dhoinine.

Comoros
The Penal Code of Comoros calls for a prison sentence of one to five years for “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex.”
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea, and Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea, and Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde.

Guinea
The Penal Code of Guinea provides for a prison sentence of six months to three years for “any indecent act or act against nature committed
with an individual of the same sex.”
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., Vice President of the Republic of Liberia.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., Vice President of the Republic of Liberia.

Liberia
The New Penal Law of Liberia calls for up to one year in prison for “voluntary sodomy,” which is defined as any anal intercourse or oral sex other than that between a husband and wife. (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Liberia.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Abdel-Ilah Benkiran, Head of Government of Morocco, and Mrs. Nabila Benkiran.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Abdel-Ilah Benkiran, Head of Government of Morocco, and Mrs. Nabila Benkiran.

Morocco
The Penal Code of Morocco provides for six months to three years in prison for “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.” Earlier this year, a court in Marrakesh, Morocco, sentenced two university students to three months in prison after they were arrested for having a “feminine appearance.”
Last month a Moroccan appeals court upheld prison sentences of up to three years for six men accused of homosexuality-related offenses.
(For more information, see this blog’s coverage of repression of LGBTI people in Morocco.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, President of the Republic of Tunisia.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, President of the Republic of Tunisia.

Tunisia
The Penal Code in Tunisia calls for a three-year prison sentence for any men convicted of sodomy. The Tunisian law has been used as a weapon against political opposition: In 2013, opposition party leader Mounir Baatour was served three months in prison for sodomy. (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Tunisia.)
The Obama pose with His Excellency Armando Emilio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique, and Ms. Maria Da Luz Dai Guebuza.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Armando Emilio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique, and Ms. Maria Da Luz Dai Guebuza.

Mozambique
The Penal Code in Mozambique calls for punishment of “people who habitually practice acts against nature.” The punishment can be up to three years in a workhouse or agricultural colony.  Mozambique also has a law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Abdelmalek Sellal, Prime Minister of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and Mrs. Farida Sellal.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Abdelmalek Sellal, Prime Minister of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and Mrs. Farida Sellal.

Algeria
The Penal Code of Algeria calls for a prison sentence of two months to two years for anyone convicted of “a homosexual act.”
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Ibrahim Roshdy Mahlab, Prime Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Ibrahim Roshdy Mahlab, Prime Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Egypt
Homosexual activity is the focus of frequent arrests and prison sentences in Egypt, including arrests of 77 people on homosexuality charges since October 2013.
Analysts differ over whether Egyptian law explicitly makes same-sex relations a crime (as activist commentator Scott Long argues) or whether such activity is technically legal but police and the Egyptian courts use laws against indecency and scandalous activity to arrest and imprison gay men (as the ILGA report states). The law against “scandalous activity” calls for up to a year in prison.
(For more information, see this blog’s coverage of repression of LGBTI people in Egypt.)
The Obamas pose with His Majesty King Mswati III, Kingdom of Swaziland, and Her Royal Highness Queen Inkhosikati La Mbikiza.
The Obamas pose with His Majesty King Mswati III, Kingdom of Swaziland, and Her Royal Highness Queen Inkhosikati La Mbikiza.

Swaziland
In Swaziland, intercourse between two men is a common-law offense. (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Swaziland.)
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia and Ms. Penehupifo Pohamba.
The Obamas pose with His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia and Ms. Penehupifo Pohamba.

Namibia
The ILGA report “State-Sponsored Homophobia” states about Namibia: “Sodomy remains a crime in Namibia according to the Roman-Dutch common-law, which was imposed by the South Africans. Common-law is a legal tradition based mainly on precedent court verdicts, while there is no
codified sodomy provision in Namibia.”
The Obamas pose with The Right Honorable Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The Obamas pose with The Right Honorable Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Lesotho
In Lesotho, sodomy is a common-law offense. It is defined as an “unlawful and intentional sexual relationship through the anus between two human males.” The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act states arrests for sodomy may be made without a warrant and that “any person charged with sodomy or assault with intent to commit sodomy may be found guilty of indecent assault or common assault.” (For more information, see this blog’s coverage of Lesotho.)
Other countries
Leaders of African countries without anti-gay laws were also invited to the summit and photographed with the Obamas, including the leaders of Ivory Coast, Sao Tome and Principe, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde,  Congo Brazzaville, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, and South Africa. Also invited were the leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda,  and Equatorial Guinea, who were labeled as “Obama’s 5 Most Atrocious Dinner Guests” by Mother Jones, along with the Mauritanian and Ugandan leaders whose photos are above.
Notoriously anti-gay strong man Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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