For the past month or so, this tiny country long forgotten by most of the world has been in the spotlight for the one thing people may have never suspected ” a mirage-legislature rising up against both the president and the allies ” the missionary churches dotted throughout the country.
There are few things as unpopular in
There just happens to be no law against it in
An article in an amendment to the national penal code that would have made homosexual acts punishable by up to two years in prison was pulled out by the Senate on February 24. It was a shock to the system in
The president’s power is weakening, said Pancrace Cimpaye, chairman of the opposition party and member of senate. We must take advantage.
Burundians are deeply religious. The church and the Word of God are transcendent. That includes President Nkurunziza, who attends the local Church on the Rock in
So, in the past weeks, the government, together with this and other churches, has gone on an all-out campaign to reverse the Senate’s decision.
Just the other day, roughly 15,000 people marched in protests led by factions of the government against the senate’s decision.
If we love our country, if we love our culture, we must ban this practice that will draw only misfortune, said the chairman of
This was a huge manipulation of the people, said Mr Cimpaye. It was demagogic.
The albinos wanted a protest last week because they are being killed. They wanted to have a demonstration, but the government refused, saying it would take away from the working day, said an anonymous NGO worker in
Being albino may be one of the unluckiest things in this part of the world, where people are hunted for their skins, sought for magical protection by bush-doctors. To be one of
We have so many children who have been rejected by their family because of being gay or lesbian, and many of them are forced to work as sex slaves to make money, says George Kanuma, co-ordinator for ARDHO, Burundi’s only gay advocacy group. This law would make it all the worse for them.
But a fighting spirit remains. Use my name, says Kanuma. To see it in the newspapers is protection for us. That’s exactly where those names have been. Since the protests, homosexuality has been on the tip of tongues of the country.
Parliament, which received the amended legislation from the senate, swiftly put the article criminalising homosexuality back into place.
Churches and non-governmental organisation have held press conferences, radio shows, and television programmes on the issue.
It is political propaganda ahead of the 2010 elections, says Christian Rumu, vice-president of
In the National Assembly, a heated debated rages on, with opposition leaders calling for a national referendum on the issue. According to the constitution, if the two sides cannot come to agreement, it will be parliament that makes the decision. Few here believe the president will allow the law to pass without criminalising homosexuality.
As the story makes larger waves around both the region and world, the government’s forces are clamping down on journalists. Although one newspaper editor was released recently, two more journalists were arrested.
We are in danger, and must work in secret, says a stringer in