The Mozambican Association for the Defence of Sexual Minorities (LAMBDA) has welcomed a recent statement by the African nation’s justice minister Benvinda Levi that homosexuality is not a criminal offense but have said that they would like to see a constitutional amendment to make explicit that existing constitutional protections cover sexual orientation so as to guard against any future moves to criminalize gay and lesbian citizens.
From Pink News:
The Republic of Mozambique has strong equality credentials compared with some African neighbours, but campaigners are pursuing absolute clarification of its stance on homosexuality.
LAMBDA, an organisation which is not currently recognised by the state, welcomed a statement by Benvinda Levi at the UN in which she said that homosexuality was not illegal in Mozambique.
But they expressed concern over Article 71 of the Penal Code, which orders “security measures” against those who habitually commit “vices against nature”.
“Security measures”, defined in the Code, include hard labour, internment in an asylum, and debarment from professional activities.
The term “vices against nature”, which was a 1954 inclusion, is not defined, and the campaign group is concerned that without explicit protection of homosexuality, a court could rely on this clause.
LAMBDA is campaigning for the term “sexual orientation” to be added to the list of classifications that are explicitly mentioned.
The rights of gay citizens are implicitly covered under the Mozambican Constitution which enshrines “the principle of universality and equality.”
The Constitution affirms that all citizens “enjoy the same rights and are subject to the same duties, regardless of colour, race, sex, ethnic origin, place of birth, religion, level of education, social position, marital status of their parents, profession or political option,” and goes on to include any “other status.”
This would, under any reasonable interpretation, seem to cover LGBT citizens, yet in other nations like Malawi where such wording is also present LGBT citizens continue to suffer criminalization and active persecution.
An explicit mention of sexual orientation is therefore desirable and, while the Mozambique government’s treatment of gay citizens is certainly much less hostile than other African administrations, group LAMBDA claims it has faced institutionalized homophobia in its quest for formal recognition.
LAMBDA has faced obstacles in its attempts to register as a legally recognised association. It submitted a request to the registry office on 30 January 2008. The lawyers for the office saw nothing wrong with the request, but the registrar claimed the purpose of the association “wounds existing morality”, and so sent it to the Ministry of Justice for a final decision.
Three years later there has still been no response. At one stage, in March 2009, Levi suggested an alteration to one of the articles in the LAMBDA statutes, and her proposal was accepted.
Yet the Minister has still not signed any dispatch recognizing the right of the LAMBDA members to form an association.
LAMBDA has said that it believes this is a violation of its rights and hopes the situation will be quickly remedied.
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