Compiled by Richard Ammon
Gabon has been a victim of it own people since independence with brutal leaders, military violence, irrational homophobia and tribal warfare. It is a sad state of being even as business does reasonably well. Despite political and humanistic chaos, a small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous and stable African countries.
Until recently, only two autocratic presidents had ruled Gabon since its independence from France in 1960. The recent president of Gabon, El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba – one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world – had dominated the country’s political scene for four decades. He died in June 2009. New elections in August 2009 brought Ali Ben Bongo, son of the former president, to power. The corruption continues.
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Gabon. That activity was never criminalized. Same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. In December 2008, Gabon signed the non-binding UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity calling for the global decriminalization of homosexuality, one of only six African countries to do so. The age of consent is 18 for both same-sex and opposite-sex sexual activity.
The U.S. Department of State’s 2010 Human Rights Report found that “discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons was a problem, and LGBT individuals often kept their status secret from the community for fear of being harassed or discriminated against.”
The following is from: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,IRBC,,GAB,,485ba861c,0.html
Homosexuality is legal but remains taboo for people in Gabon. According to a journalist interviewed by Agence France-Presse (AFP), homosexuality is generally considered an illness; the journalist gave an example of a young man who, under family pressure, had to go through initiation rites to ‘reinforce his virility’. Furthermore, according to commentary provided in the AFP article by a homosexual Gabonese man, most homosexuals do not openly admit their homosexuality, in the sense that most of them are married and have a family.
The same man indicated that Gabonese people tolerate homosexuals, “somewhat”, as long as the homosexuals are not “seducers … and they do not behave shockingly”; if they do, they are usually attacked. However, according to another homosexual man, who is in his forties and “claims to be open about his homosexuality”…”attitudes have changed a great deal, and homosexuals are more open than they used to be.” Countering this, The New Internationalist reports that, in Gabon, homosexuality is “severely repressed” in practice (July 2006).
Gay life in Gabon is not simple, as can be seen. There is very little insight into private LGBT life in this small country. In the capital of Libreville, there are no gay rights associations, and homosexuals have very few public meeting places. The following story offers a small view into that hidden world.
A report from Generation Nouvelle
A Homosexual Network in a School Milieu (Gabon)
March 8, 2011
Five female students of the college terminal evangelical Samuel Nang Essono Melen, whose ages range from 19 to 23 years, were arrested last week by the management of the institution that, upon investigation, discovered that they indulged merrily in homosexual practices within the institution.
Five girls, NNMT (19 years), AOB (20 years), AL (21 years), BW (22 years) and BNK (23 years), all were students in sixth form college A1A Essono Melen Evangelical Nang, were engaged in lesbianism within the institution, and had been for several months.
According to the school principal and chairman of the Disciplinary Board, Mr. Samuel Akoué, the interception of a message that was homosexual from NNMT sent to one of her classmates, helped to dismantle the network .
The intercepted message, explained the principal, said: “Hello baby, sleep well? Make me a message tonight. OBN, you know what, I miss you greatly. I want your lips.” A disturbing message!
It is after this message that management decided to call Miss NNMT and OBN to explain the meaning of the message is ambiguous. Questioned recently to confess to the head of the institution their homosexual tendency, a practice which they were engaged in for two years. But not without revealing the names of some other comrades who constitute the network. These latter girls recognized the facts, but argued that they had already broken with the “shameless” practice.
As head of an institution of evangelical character and advocates of the cardinal virtues of morality, chastity, magnanimity and purity, Mr. Samuel Akoué decided to call the parents of the affected girls to find appropriate solutions, to help these young girls who seem to have embarked on a path of perdition by such practices.
But one parent called Mr. Jocelyn Obame Nsimoro, older brother of NNMT, will not hear it that way. Since it happened on the school premises, it caused a commotion. As explained by the principal of the college, it was after a long wait, beyond the control of management, that the latter began to show his displeasure.
And as if the noise produced was not enough, Mr. Obame Nsimoro decided to hand the main person who would have approached him to apologize. “He removed his glasses, his wristwatch, and folded the sleeves of his shirt to face to me. Fortunately a teacher and superintendent interrupted the scene,” said Mr. Samuel Akoué.
Following this unexpected incident that was unacceptable within the institution, the director of the college convened the disciplinary committee and decided on the expulsion of Miss NNMT, younger sister Jocelyn Obame Nsimoro, pursuant to regulations which state: “The parents of the effected students, members of the administration, or teaching supervisors can expel the children to a permanent exclusion after being disciplined.”
The other four girls whose parents were also summoned are being processed by the Disciplinary Board of the institution. According to some indiscretions, they could be permanently excluded at the end of the school year. In effect, says a source close to management, the college Nang Essono Samuel, an evangelical institution, can not tolerate such practices to tarnish the image of the school under the umbrella of the Evangelical Church of Gabon.
Moreover, says management, investigations continue to uncover other potential members of a network that has perhaps not fully revealed its secrets.