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Anguish and abuse after Rwandan gospel singer came out as gay

Rwandan gospel singer Albert Nabonibo is still pained by people’s harsh responses to his revelation last month that he is gay.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Albert Nabonibo (Photo courtesy of Out.com)

The Associated Press reports:

Rwandan gospel singer comes out as gay, to country’s shock

KIGALI, Rwanda — Friends of Albert Nabonibo, a well-known gospel singer in Rwanda who recently came out as a gay man, do not want their names revealed. It is too shameful, one says. Another says he is anguished because his family knows he often used to socialize with Nabonibo.

Nabonibo shocked many Rwandans in August when he revealed in an interview with a Christian YouTube channel that he is gay in a country where such a public assertion of homosexuality is unheard of. Although the central African nation has been relatively free of the anti-gay rhetoric commonly heard in some other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, homosexuality is still widely despised, and LGBT people here keep a low profile.

Nabonibo told the Associated Press that he came out in order to live normally. Yet the reaction he has received, from family and friends to strangers, has been mostly “horrible,” he said, underscoring the intolerance faced by LGBT people in many parts of Africa.

“But there is no going back, because I have to live my real life,” Nabonibo said in an interview in the capital, Kigali. “It’s so sad to see people you know abusing you.”

Nabonibo, who is 35 and a qualified accountant, said he had become an outcast at his workplace as friends isolate him. He is worried he could lose his job. Even at home, news of his homosexuality shocked many relatives, although some have been acting tolerant, he said.

Although Rwanda’s penal code does not explicitly proscribe gay sex, same-sex marriage is banned. This means that many homosexuals are forced to live underground lives to avoid the harsh judgment of society. Nabonibo said he was compelled to come out because he could no longer “live in denial.”

“There is a long list of them [gays] in your midst, and they include pastors or churchgoers,” he said. “This pretense encouraged me to speak out.”

For more information, read the full article in the Los Angeles Times: “Rwandan gospel singer comes out as gay, to country’s shock.”