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foreign affairs

Chad could become 37th country in Africa to ban homosexuality

In a major setback for gay rights in Africa, Chad is poised to become the 37th country on the continent to outlaw homosexuality.

Government ministers voted to make same-sex relations punishable by up to 20 years in prison, The Guardian reports. Chad's penal code did not "explicitly mention homosexuality," but Section 361 in the code's new draft says that anyone who has intercourse with someone of the same sex can be jailed for 15 to 20 years and fined 50,000 to 500,000 Central African francs, or around $98 to $980.

The decision hasn't yet been ratified by President Idriss Déby. While the cabinet says that the ban would "protect the family and comply with Chadian society," Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch sees it as a way to isolate the country. "This is a setback for legal reform in Chad," he said. "The revisions to the penal code are intended to integrate national law with international law, whereas this provision would do exactly the opposite."