A draft bill going through parliament in Chad is likely to fuel homophobia and would be a major backwards step for human rights in the country if passed into law, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

Amendments to Chad’s penal code proposed by the government would criminalise same sex conduct, threatening jail sentences of between 15 and 20 years. Chad is just one of several African countries which are ramping up their anti gay laws, with Uganda and Gambia both having introduced, or attempted to introduce legislation which could have seen gay people receive the death penalty.

Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said: ‘The criminalisation of individuals based solely on their sexual orientation and gender identity violates Chad’s international and regional human rights obligations, and is a big step back for tolerance and respect for human rights in the country.’

‘Amnesty International has analysed the draft Bill. The vagueness of the proposed provision is also deeply worrying – people could be investigated and prosecuted for homosexuality based on a denunciation or rumour alone. People who are perceived to be gay or don’t conform to traditional gender stereotypes will not be able to live their lives with equality and dignity.

‘If this Bill is passed in its current form, Chad will have a discriminatory penal code that violates the rights of these individuals and fuel homophobia. Both the government and parliament must ensure that any law adopted respects fundamental human rights principles, including non-discrimination and equality for all.’