Support Initiatives
November 27, 2020

Decriminalise same-sex intimacy in Eswatini!

When Eswatini, a small Southern African kingdom formerly known as Swaziland, gained its independence from Britain in 1968, it preserved a relic of colonial rule which outlaws same-sex conduct. Today, Eswatini is one of almost 70 countries, most of which are in Africa, where being gay is illegal.

The common law offense of sodomy allows the authorities in Eswatini to arrest without a warrant anyone suspected of engaging in same-sex conduct.

Although the law isn’t currently being applied in Eswatini, it nonetheless inspires widespread homophobia, transphobia, and violence against queer people in the kingdom. The colonial-era law is also being used as a justification to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community in various spheres of life and deny them services.

A petition launched by AllOut is now seeking to pressure Eswatini’s Ministry of Justice to abolish the common law offense of sodomy and decriminalise same-sex intimacy.

In an interview with FairPlanet, Melusi Simelane, founder and executive director of Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities (ESGM) - the only official LGBTQ organisation working in the kingdom - stated that virtually all discrimination and human rights violations experienced by the queer community in Eswatini find their roots in this outdated law.

“That law will always catch up with you,” Simelane said. “You don’t get employment opportunities, equally you don’t get promotion opportunities if you are employed, you don’t get opportunities in the education system […] even in the housing market you can’t get the same opportunities, in the economy you can’t compete fairly as an LGBT person. So you find that everything [...] then goes back to the common law offense of sodomy because when all of these things happen and then you are trying to get protection you are not going to get protection because you are an LGBT person.”

“Change has only ever come when the hand of the powerful is forced,” write the authors of the AllOut petition. “This outdated common law offence hangs like a sword above the heads of LGBTIQ people who live in fear of arrest.”

The petition has already garnered over 19,000 signatures. 

Please take a moment to sign the petition and add your name to the growing demand to grant queer people in Eswatini their full human and civil rights.

Image: © Mathias Wasik / All Out.

Call to Action
Decriminalise same-sex intimacy in Eswatini!