N'DJAMENA, Chad, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Government ministers of the West African nation of Chad voted Monday to make same-sex relations a crime, the 37th African nation to enact such a law.
Homosexuality is not currently illegal in Chad, but a section of a new penal code makes it punishable by 15 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine. The cabinet claims the intent of the law is to "protect the family and to comply with Chadian society." It will go before Parliament members and then to President Idriss Deby for his signature; no dispute of objection is expected.
Although the draft of the penal code abolished the death penalty in Chad, international human rights groups condemned Section 361, the section concerned with anti-homosexuality.
"This is very good news (the cessation of the death penalty), which is unfortunately marred by the criminalization of homosexuality," Florent Geel, Africa director of the International Federation of Human Rights, said on the Gay Star News website. "Criminalizing homosexuality seems discriminatory, demagogic and counter-productive, as it may turn groups against each other."
"The principle of nondiscrimination is enshrined in all human rights instruments signed and ratified by the Chadian government," said Santiago A. Canton, Executive Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights, part of the Washington-based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. "The proposed changes to Chad's penal code show total disregard for the country's international obligations."