|09ANTANANARIVO890||2009-12-31 06:59:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Antananarivo|
VZCZCXRO8732 PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO DE RUEHAN #0890 3650659 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 310659Z DEC 09 FM AMEMBASSY ANTANANARIVO TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3183 INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS ANTANANARIVO 000890
1. SUMMARY: In response to reftel, Post is providing
information on official policies and public attitudes
regarding sexual orientation and gender identity for both
Madagascar and Comoros. Homosexual acts are illegal in
Madagascar for individuals under the age of 21, although the
policy is reportedly only applied against those engaging in
prostitution. In Comoros, homosexual acts are illegal at any
age, but remain hidden and out of the court system due to
social pressure in this devoutly Muslim country. Neither
country is engaged in any current debate on the subject, or
considering any changes in their legislation. END SUMMARY.
2. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not widely
discussed in Madagascar, with public attitudes ranging from
tacit acceptance to outright physical violence, particularly
against transvestite sex workers. Contacts at local NGO
"Aids Alliance" in Antananarivo state that there has never
been any open debate concerning homosexuality in Madagascar,
and that most organizations that work with the GLBT community
do so as health service providers, often in the context of
their work to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. GLBT
individuals who are not sex workers tend to keep their
orientation secret, and often marry with the opposite sex.
Transvestite and gay sex workers are frequently the target of
aggression, ranging from verbal abuse to stone throwing and
even murder, according to Aids Alliance. In recent years,
there has been an increased awareness of "gay pride" through
positive media exposure and even a march in central Tana, but
general attitudes are slow to change.
3. Article 331 of Madagascar's Penal Code (from June 17,
1972, revised June 30, 1998) provides for a prison sentence
of two to five years and a fine of two to ten million ariary
(USD 1,000 to 5,000) for acts that are "indecent or against
nature with an individual of the same sex under the age of
21". These terms are understood to include any sexual
contact up to and including intercourse, but are allegedly
only used to prosecute transvestite sex workers under the age
of 21. There are reports of official abuses occurring at the
community level, such as administrative officials denying
health services to transvestite men or breaking
confidentiality agreements, but this behavior has no legal
basis, and would qualify as discrimination if it were pursued.
4. Homosexual acts are illegal in Comoros, regardless of age.
Article 318 of the Comoran Penal Code (from May 15, 1981,
revised May 8, 1982 and September 18, 1995) provides a
punishment of up to five years imprisonment, and a fine of
50,000 to 1,000,000 Comoran francs (USD 166 to 3,333) for
acts that are "indecent or against nature with an individual
of the same sex". As the penal codes of Madagascar and
Comoros share a common ancestor in French law, the wording is
nearly identical - except that the Comoran version omits any
reference to age.
5. Post is unaware of any cases of this nature having ever
come before the courts, however, and Comoros does not have
the active gay sex worker community that Madagascar has.
Societal pressure in this heavily Muslim country is such that
homosexuals do not openly discuss their sexual orientation,
and thus no public debate on the issue has been held.