By Darnell Christie
LONDON, June 24 (Openly) - Gabon has voted to decriminalise gay sex, making it one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to do so by reversing a law that punished sexual relations between people of the same sex.
On Tuesday, 48 members of the lower house of the country's parliament backed a proposed initiative to revise an article of a 2019 law that criminalised homosexuality, while 24 voted against and 25 abstained.
Gabon in central Africa became the 70th country to ban gay sex when it passed a law last year with penalties of six months in prison and a fine of 5 million CFA francs ($8,500), with many of the countries banning same-sex relations in Africa.
In May last year, a Kenyan court upheld a law criminalising gay sex dating back to British rule. Advocates are challenging that ruling.
Here are the latest 10 countries to remove bans on same-sex relations:
1. Gabon - Lawmakers in Gabon's lower house of parliament voted to decriminalise homosexuality on June 23, 2020.
"Forty-eight lawmakers have shaken an entire nation and its customs and traditions," said one member of parliament, who voted against the revision.
2. Botswana - Gay sex was decriminalised in a high court ruling on June 11, 2019, although the Botswana government said it would appeal.
3. Bhutan - On June 7, 2019, Bhutan's lower house of parliament voted to decriminalise gay sex.
4. Angola - In January 2019, Angola removed a ban on "vices against nature" from its penal code, which had been interpreted as criminalising gay sex.
5. India - A colonial-era law ban on gay sex was ruled unconstitutional by India's Supreme Court in September 2018, decriminalising same-sex relations in the country of 1.3 billion people.
6. Trinidad and Tobago - The Caribbean state's high court overturned its law against "buggery", which criminalised sexual relations between consenting same-sex partners, in April 2018.
7. Seychelles - In 2016 the Indian Ocean island state repealed the parts of its penal code that criminalised same-sex relations.
8. Nauru - Homosexuality was legalised by the Pacific Island country in 2016, after it accepted recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011.
9. Belize - The former British colony's criminalisation of "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" was ruled unconstitutional in 2016.
10. Mozambique - Two articles in Mozambique's Portuguese colonial-era penal code criminalising "vices against nature" were repealed in 2014.
Sources: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Reuters
(Reporting by Darnell Christie, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith and Hugo Greenhalgh. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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