Mozambique removes anti-gay law

Country revises colonial-era legislation

Homosexual acts will no longer be deemed a criminal offence in Mozambique after 29 June when the country sings into effect new legislation to replace colonial-era penal laws.

Technically, homosexuality has never been illegal in Mozambique but under existing legislation, those who engage in same-sex acts can be punished if characterised as "habitually engaging in vices against nature."

This law, which was last amended in 1954, is part of the country's penal codes dating back to 1887 when Mozambique was under Portuguese colonial rule.

Although committing "vices against nature" is technically punishable by up to three years hard labour, Mozambique rarely enforced it against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Just before leaving office in January, the nation's former president Armando Guebuza made provisions to revise the law within six months.

Mozambique is one of Africa's most tolerant countries in regards to homosexuality, and Guebuza's predecessor Joaquim Chissano has lobbied other African states to remove laws impeding on LGBT rights.

When the new legislation takes effect on 29 June, Mozambique will become the 21st African nation that either allows homosexuality or does not legislate against it. Homosexuality is illegal in the remaining 35 African countries, and is punishable by death in Sudan, Nigeria and Mauritania.