03 August 2009
The interviews conducted by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch documents the difficulties of being a gay or lesbian in
Yves, an HIV-positive gay man who lives in
Another self-identified gay man from
Much of the region has laws which criminalize gay relations, but for
The new law first passed the National Assembly in November 2008. Amid international pressure, the country's Senate overwhelmingly rejected the criminalization provision.
The Burundi National Assembly, though, refused to accept the Senate's rejection, and the law became final in April.
The action by the
Encouraged by some of the recent gains seen globally by gay activists, the Association for Respect and Rights for Homosexuals was formed five years ago in
Since 2007, though the group began to do radio interviews and more actively make its case for increased homosexual rights to the public.
But the group's limited public exposure seems to have created an intense political backlash, at least for the short term.
According to Human Rights Watch researchers,
Some observers partly attributed the president's activism on the issue as a move to weaken political rivals within his own party who had made public statements seen as more liberal on the gay rights issue.
Boris Dittrich, head of homosexual rights advocacy at Human Rights Watch, which actively worked against the law's passage, says that his group has not given up its efforts to have the criminalization rescinded.
"After the next elections, there might be the possibility that new politicians will see that criminalization of homosexual conduct is a violation of human rights and it doesn't lead to anything productive. So we will continue trying to persuade politicians in
The group says that it hopes that the international backlash
Human Rights Group researchers told VOA that, like similar trends seen in elsewhere in the world, there is a growing tolerance among the country's youth for gays and lesbians, while older generations are much more likely to consider it a taboo.
The progress that homosexuals have seen in the country towards acceptance, though, is mostly limited to its capital city,
Many of the those interviewed by the organization shared similar stories of banishment by family members if their sexual identity was discovered.
Seventy-seven countries in the world have laws against homosexuality, many of them in