The parliament of Chad passed a measure criminalizing homosexuality almost unanimously—only one MP voted against the bill, with 111 voting for it. (Four legislators abstained from voting.)
The update to the 1967 penal code also abolishes the death penalty except in cases of terrorism and raises the legal marriage age from 16 to 18. "This penal code is modern, it takes account of our customs and also our international commitments," said Minister of Justice Hamid Dahalob.
According to government statistics, 28% of women in Chad were married before the age of 15. President Idriss Déby has pushed for harsh penalties for marrying minors, including up to 10 years in prison and fines reaching $7,800.
The ban on homosexuality was initially proposed in 2014, but as a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The new regulation, however, categorizes homosexuality as a misdemeanor; violators, male or female, would face a fine or suspended prison sentence. Unless Déby vetoes the change, which is unlikely, Chad will become the 73rd country to criminalize homosexuality.
Former Prime Minister Delwa Kassiré Coumakoye calls the new law a fair compromise.
“Homosexuality is condemned by all religions. We do not have to forgive something that God himself rejects because Westerners have said this or that... The current provision of the Penal Code is a fair balance between conservative public opinion and an uncompromising international community on the protection of minorities.”
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