The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Govt Cannot Criminalise Homosexuality - Minister

Kigali — The Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama has condemned and refuted reports that government intends to criminalize homosexual acts saying that sexual orientation is a private matter not a state business.

His reaction comes after international organizations, including rights groups and gay communities across the world raised an alarm in several reports accusing the government of trying to consider a law against homosexuality.

"The government I serve and speak for on certain issues cannot and will not in any way criminalize homosexuality; sexual orientation is a private matter and each individual has his or her own orientation - - this is not a State matter at all," said Karugarama.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), and Rwanda's Horizon Community Association (HOCA), recently issued statements demanding that that the Rwandan Parliament withdraws article 217 of the penal code regarding homosexuality.

The Minister accused the 'groups for either acting in total ignorance or intentionally presenting wrong facts for their own political motives.'

"They allege that the law was to be passed in Parliament on December 16, but sincerely there was nothing like that in the parliament that day."

He clearly stated that; "these people should distinguish between issues debated by private parties and concrete proposals from the government."

He hastened to add that the government has held a meeting with its development partners on this particular issue and told them their position 'which is that the government has no intentions whatsoever to criminalize homosexuality.'

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