A new law decriminalising same-sex sexual relations in Angola has gone into effect on Wednesday.

According to reports, the new law overturned a colonial-era ban on homosexual relations which described it as “vice against nature”.

Activist Jean-Luc Romero-Michel tweeted, “The law decriminalising homosexuality adopted in Angola in 2019 took effect today. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is now reprehensible and even punishable by prison.”

He said it was “a great step forward” in the fight against state-sponsored discrimination against the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and intersex) community.

Reacting to this development, Nigerian novelist, Elnathan John, predicts that Nigeria would likely adopt the law decriminalising homosexuality.

He wrote on his twitter handle, “So apparently the law decriminalising homosexuality in Angola goes into effect today. For those who think Nigeria is not ready, there are African countries doing this. It is possible. No decent society should have laws punishing people for their sexuality.”

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The changes were passed in January 2019 by Angola’s parliament, but was not signed into law by the country’s president until November 2020. The new law also prohibits discrimination based upon a person’s sexual orientation.

The changes came from the first rewriting of the country’s penal code since gaining independence in 1975. Angola had previously been a colony of Portugal, and the amended laws had been a remnant of the colonial-era rule that encouraged discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

According to Human Rights Watch, the previous laws on same-sex sexual relations had been rarely prosecuted, but served as a basis for undue scrutiny and discrimination. The new law includes imprisonment of up to two years for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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At the time, passage of the new law was seen as part of a broader effort strengthening the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the country. The government had given legal status in 2018 to the advocacy group, Iris Angola. The group called the move an “historic moment” in defending the rights of the community in the country.

“This is an act of sovereignty by the Angolan State which, after 134 years of being governed in the criminal and criminal fields, with a code that has been in force since 1886, from the colonial administration, now has the penal code totally inspired by political reality, legal, cultural and social Angolan,” Francisco Queiroz, minister of justice and human rights, said at the time. “Therefore it is an aspect that must be underlined, this is one of the consolidation of the national sovereignty.”

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Meanwhile, SaharaReporters had earlier reported the latest memorandum signed by United States President, Joe Biden, aimed at expanding protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people worldwide, including potentially through the use of financial sanctions.

The Biden Presidency threatened “swift and meaningful” responses, including financial sanctions against countries found guilty of human rights abuses of LGBTQI+ persons

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