Case Study: Sexuality, Poverty and Politics in Rwanda

IDS Evidence Report
Haste, P and Gatete, T.K.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
Publication date: 
Wednesday, 1 April, 2015


This study explores Rwanda’s relatively progressive position on LGBT-related issues and its implications for Rwandan civil society. It examines the strategies employed by national as well as international actors to advance LGBT rights and to address social and economic marginalisation.

Compared with the situation in neighbouring countries, state-sponsored homophobia appears negligible in Rwanda, and violent attacks are minimal. Rwanda has never criminalised same-sex sexual conduct and is an outlier to the apparent ‘trend’ of homophobia and of discriminatory legislation in the continent. Despite negative reports of Rwanda’s human rights record in areas such as civil and political rights, when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity, human rights observers consistently report that there is no need for concern. In the international arena, Rwanda has emerged as an unlikely champion for LGBT rights, and domestically has designated sexual orientation as a ‘private matter’.

  • Homosexuality has never been criminalised and sexual orientation has been designated a 'private matter' by government
  • Civil society organisations have some freedom to work on LGBT issues as long as they are aligned with the government's agenda
Opendocs reference: