On Oct 6, 2016 The Bay Area Reporter Online reported: Rwanda President Paul Kagame doesn’t want to have the same trouble as his neighbors Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda when it comes to the LGBT community.
Some of Rwanda’s neighboring countries have passed anti-gay laws and harassed their queer communities, resulting in criticism from around the world.
“It hasn’t been our problem,” Kagame said before an estimated 1,000 Rwandans and the country’s supporters in San Francisco September 24. “And we don’t intend to make it a problem.”
The audience roared with applause following an initial gasp of shock, and then laugher, when the Bay Area Reporter asked about LGBT rights in Rwanda and what Kagame planned to do to ensure protection of queer Rwandans.
Kagame and an entourage of Rwandan business leaders were in San Francisco last month for the first Rwandan Day, a cultural and economic celebration of the Central African country.
He was joined by anti-gay pastor Rick Warren, founder and leader of Saddleback Church, based in Lake Forest, California.
“We are struggling with all kinds of problems that we have,” continued Kagame, touting stability and the harmony of different people living and working together. “We want to have everybody involved at this table. I think that we’ve made very good progress on that, so … as I said, that is not a big problem for us. I don’t want to make it a problem.”
However, it is a problem in the majority Catholic and Christian nation, where being LGBT is taboo and queer people are violently attacked without a clear path to seek justice via explicitly laid out legal protections. Gay rights are not specifically included in the country’s anti-discrimination law. There isn’t a law that criminalizes homosexuality in Rwanda. LGBT Rwandans and their allies believe they are protected under the Commonwealth’s constitution that states all Rwandans are equal, have a right to privacy, and are protected under the country’s anti-discrimination law under “sex,” according to activists and experts.
The only anti-gay laws on the books are same-sex sexual relationships with minors under the age of 18. As of 2010 marriage is only between a man and a woman.