Burundi’s president says LGBTQ+ people ‘should be stoned’ in chilling speech

Burundi's president Evariste Ndayishimiye, who recently said LGBTQ+ people 'should be stoned', stands at a podium as he speaks into a microphone

Burundi’s president Evariste Ndayishimiye said that queer people in the east African nation ‘should be stoned’ amid a virulent anti-LGBTQ+ tirade. 

Ndayishimiye, who has led Burundi since 2020, lashed out against LGBTQ+ rights in a question and answer session with the press and public on Friday (29 December). 

The president, who is Catholic, described the acceptance of LGBTQ+ identities as ‘attracting a curse’ to a country before claiming that there are no queer people in Burundi. 

“Personally, I think if we see these kinds of individuals in Burundi, we should put them in a stadium and stone them. And it would not be a sin for those who do,” Ndayishimiye said. 

He then suggested that being LGBTQ+ was like “choosing between Satan and God”. Queer Burundians living abroad who “chose Satan” should not return to the country, he added.

“If you want to choose Satan now go and live in those countries [in the West] and I think those who strive to go there want to acquire those habits, they should remain there and never bring them to us,” Ndayishimiye said. 

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Homosexuality in Burundi has been criminalised since 2009 with LGBTQ+ people found guilty of consensual same-sex relations facing up to two years’ imprisonment. 

As of 2011, students in Burundi can be expelled from school if they’re suspected of being LGBTQ+, and a 2012 UN Human Rights Council report found a young person was “tied to a pole” for hours as punishment for being gay.

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In February, 24 people were arrested in Burundi’s political capital Gitega as part of a security crackdown on “homosexual practices and incitement to homosexual practices”. 

An activist told AFP that the individuals arrested were part of MUCO Burundi, a non-profit organisation that focuses on HIV and AIDS, and were in Gitega to attend a seminar. The activist added the claims against them were “absurd and baseless”.

Just a week before the arrests, Ndayishimiye called on his citizens of Burundi to “curse those who indulge in homosexuality because God cannot bear it”

“They must be banished, treated as pariahs in our country,” he said. 

In 2017, the police in Burundi announced an “official hunt” for LGBTQ+ people. The chilling announcement came after several queer people, including teens, were arrested and forced to pay extortionate bribes for their freedom. 

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