$64 fine settles 1st court case citing Burundi’s anti-gay law

Location du Burundi en Afrique.
Location of Burundi in Africa.

A Vietnamese telecommunications worker has been released after paying a fine to settle changes that he engaged in illegal “homosexual practices,” according to the Burundian human rights organization MOLI (Movement for Individual Liberties).

The man, whose name was not disclosed, was released Sept. 19 after paying a fine of 100,000 Burundian francs (US $64), MOLI said.

He was the first person convicted under Burundi’s anti-homosexuality law of 2009, MOLI said.

His arrest on Sept. 16 in northern Burundi was reported by Agence France-Presse.

Under the Burundian law of 2009, homosexual intimacy is punishable by three months to two years in prison and/or a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 Burundian francs (US $32 to $64).

MOLI cited several procedural and legal flaws in the handling of the case:

  • The man was arrested after being denounced by a former partner.
  • His arrest may have been based merely on his alleged identity as a homosexual, rather than for being caught in the act, as the law requires.
  • This case was handled by a court in Karuzi that lacks the authority to act on cases involving potential punishments of two years in prison.

The Vietnamese national was arrested after he was found with a Burundian partner, AFP was told by Richard Nzokirantevye, governor of Karuzi Province.

The Burundian partner escaped and is sought by police, Nzokirantevye said.

The arrestee is an employee of the Vietnamese telecommunications company Viettel, which received a license in February to provide mobile phone service in Burundi.

See also a version of this article in French in the blog 76 Crimes en Français: “Arrestation pour ‘pratiques homosexuelles’ au Burundi.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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