Article 567 Of The 2009 Burundian Penal Code

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Article 567 of the 2009 Burundian penal code punishes same sex relations with three months to two years imprisonment and harsh fines. The National Assembly of Burundi passed Article 567 on 21 November 2008. Although shortly rejected by the state senate, Article 567 became law when President Pierre Nkurunziza overruled the senate’s decision and signed the bill into law on 22 April 2009. The law criminalizing homosexual acts was controversial; especially, because Burundi did not have a specific history of homosexual discrimination, however, the implementation of the new law was reported to have been followed by a rise in anti-gay sentiment. This is especially surprising, because unlike other countries in the region Burundi did not have a colonial past of sexual discrimination. This is not to say that before Article 567, the Burundian homosexual community did not face significant barriers in access to care and prevention. However, the new law has amplified the challenges of preventing HIV/AIDS within this community, which in turn negatively affects the overall efforts for global eradication of HIV. Reports of AIDS in Burundi first surfaced in 1983. At the time, same-sex behavior was not considered a criminal act. In fact, Burundi does not always have a history of homophobia - especially compared to the discrimination faced in its neighboring countries. Today in Burundi, HIV is one of the major causes of fatality. In 2015, about 85 000 people were living in Burundi with HIV.

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