Rwanda: Shadow Report on the Rights of LGBT People

This shadow report was prepared by the Coalition of African Lesbians, Global Rights, Horizon Community Association, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the International Human Rights Clinic from the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, and was partially based on research conducted by the University of Virginia School of Law. It was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee as part of the review of Rwanda’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Human Rights Committee regularly reviews submissions from every state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Non-governmental organizations may submit “shadow reports,” which serve as an additional source of information for UN Committee members. In shadow reports, NGOs generally offer their own evaluation of a state’s compliance with the treaty. In its Concluding Observations the Committee stated:

19. While noting the fact that same sex sexual relations of consenting adults are not criminalized, the Committee is concerned at legislation proposals to reverse that situation. (Arts. 17 and 26 of the Covenant.)

The State party should ensure that criminal law reforms are in full conformity with articles 17 and 26 of the Covenant. In addition to this observation, the Committee stated with regard to sex workers and vagrancy in observation 16:

16. The Committee is concerned about reports that the Kigali authorities often arrest persons belonging to vulnerable groups, such as street children, beggars and sex workers, on the grounds of vagrancy. Such persons are reported to be held in detention without any charges being brought against them and in precarious material conditions (art. 9 of the Covenant).

The State party should take steps to ensure that no one is detained arbitrarily, in particular for reasons essentially of poverty, and that the offence of vagrancy is eliminated from the penal code. For more information see the shadow report and the Human Rights Committee’s Concluding Observations: