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Mozambique Decriminalizes Homosexuality

This is the latest in a string of legal victories for LGBT people in East and Southern Africa.

Posted on July 1, 2015, at 12:25 p.m. ET

Fritz Reiss / AP

Mozambique has removed a colonial-era law that criminalized homosexuality.

The Southern African nation of Mozambique implemented a new criminal code this week that removes a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality.

This is the latest win for LGBT legal rights in the region despite the high-profile enactment of a sweeping anti-LGBT law in Uganda last year. Courts in Botswana and Kenya have both recently issued landmark rulings giving LGBT advocacy groups the right to formally incorporate, and Uganda's Constitutional Court struck down the anti-LGBT law in a ruling last October.

But Carina Capitine of the Mozambican LGBT rights organization Lambda said the new code will make little practical difference in the lives of LGBT people in the country.

"We do welcome it but we don't actually see it as something that will bring a change for how LGBT people live in Mozambique," Capitine told The Guardian. There have been no prosecutions under the law since the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

The group's primary fight has actually been for the right to formally register as an organization, which it has been trying to do for eight years.

"The new penal code is a victory, but it tastes sour," another Lambda spokesman, Danilo Da Silva, told Mamba Online. "The government must guarantee the rights of every citizen. We are disappointed that it's not happening."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.