Burundi President Ndayishimiye calls for stoning of gay couples
Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye launched a virulent anti-gay tirade on Friday, saying same-sex couples should be publicly stoned.
He also lashed out at Western countries that press other nations to allow gay rights or risk losing aid.
Homosexuality in Burundi, a conservative Christian country in East Africa, has been criminalised since 2009 with prison terms of up to two years for consensual same-sex acts.
Ndayishimiye, a Catholic, described marriage between same-sex couples as an “abominable practice”.
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“Personally, I think if we see these kinds of individuals in Burundi, we should put them in a stadium and stone them. And it would not be a sin for those who do,” Ndayishimiye said in response to a question at a public event in the east of the country that was broadcast by Burundian media.
He also criticised Western countries that urge smaller nations to allow gay marriage or risk losing aid, saying: “Let them keep their help, let them keep it.”
Burundians living abroad who have “chosen the devil” and practise homosexuality should “not come back”, he added.
Homosexuality is illegal in many East African countries, which have a history of repression and stigmas against gay people, often encouraged by conservative Muslims and Christians.
Uganda in May adopted what has been described as one of the world’s harshest laws against homosexuality, prompting outrage among rights groups and Western powers.
In response, Washington has said it would remove Uganda from a key trade deal and has imposed visa restrictions on some officials, while the World Bank suspended new loans to the country.
The legislation is currently being challenged at Uganda’s constitutional court.
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In March this year, Burundi charged 24 people with “homosexual practices” in a crackdown on same-sex relationships.
The move followed a call by Ndayishimiye for citizens to root out homosexuality and treat gay people as “pariahs”.
Ndayishimiye took power in June 2020 after the death of president Pierre Nkurunziza and has been lauded by the international community for slowly ending years of Burundi’s isolation under his predecessor’s chaotic and bloody rule.
But he has failed to improve a wretched human rights record and the country of 12 million people remains one of the poorest on the planet.