Madagascar: Treatment of sexual and gender minorities by the authorities and society, including their family members; state protection (2017–October 2019) [MDG106369.FE]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Overview

Information on sexual and gender minorities in Madagascar was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. Sources report that the media rarely addresses this subject (Dazed 31 May 2018; Quebec 2017, 41) and that there is little information available on it (Quebec 2017, 41).

Sources indicate that there is a [translation] "LGBT community" in Madagascar (L'Express de Madagascar 18 May 2019; Freedom House 29 Jan. 2019, Sec. B4). According to Freedom House, this community is in the capital and it is "small" and "active" (Freedom House 29 Jan. 2019, Sec. B4). According to a guide by the Department of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion (ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion) of Quebec on the situation of sexual minorities in their countries of origin, Madagascar has [translation] "some [LGBT] organizations," and they have appropriated some public places in the capital, such as public gardens, streets and clubs (Quebec 2017, 41). Media sources report that there are some "refuge[s]" (News24 4 Feb. 2018) or "safe spaces" where sexual and gender minorities can meet and safely be themselves (Dazed 31 May 2018). According to the South African site News24, these places can be bars or karaoke dens (News24 4 Feb. 2018). An article in the Malagasy daily Midi Madagasikara reports that [translation] "there is an increasing number of LGBT clubs and karaoke bars, though straight people also go to them" (Midi Madagasikara 15 Apr. 2017). An article in Dazed magazine [1] presenting a photojournalism series made by British photographer Tom Maguire following his month-long stay with LGBT community members in a queer commune in Antananarivo in 2017, reports that this commune in the neighbourhood of Ankazolava "provides a safe space for LGBT people across the capital to meet, share experiences, and party" (Dazed 31 May 2018).

According to L'Express de Madagascar [2], the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (L'Express de Madagascar 18 May 2019) and World AIDS Day are celebrated in Madagascar (L'Express de Madagascar 1 Dec. 2018). The guide by Quebec's Department of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion mentions that in the past few years there has been a [translation] "annual march" (Quebec 2017, 41).

2. Legislation

Sources report that homosexuality or same-sex sex acts are legal or are not prohibited by law (US 13 Mar. 2019, 27; News24 4 Feb. 2018). According to some sources, such acts have never been criminalized (ILGA Mar. 2019, 181; Quebec 2017, 41).

Some sources specify that the legal age of consent for same-sex sexual relations is 21 (US 13 Mar. 2019, 27; ILGA Mar. 2019, 181), whereas it is 14 for different-sex sexual relations (ILGA Mar. 2019, 181). Article 331 of Madagascar's Penal Code provides the following:

[translation]

(Law No. 98-024 of 25.01.99) - Without prejudice to the more serious penalties provided for in the preceding paragraphs or in articles 332 and 333 of this Code, any individual who commits acts indecent or against nature with an individual of the same sex younger than 21 will be punished by a sentence of two to five years and a fine of two to 20 million ariary [approximately C$708 to C$7,075]. (Madagascar 1972)

Information on the application of this law was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. The US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018 indicate that sexual minorities were unaware that they could be arrested for "corruption of a minor" and that although there were no official statistics, arrests occurred for such acts (US 13 Mar. 2019, 27–28).

News24 reports that there are no legal prohibitions around gender identity in Madagascar (News24 4 Feb. 2018). The guide by the Department of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion of Quebec notes that [translation] "transsexuality has never been criminalized in Madagascar" (Quebec 2017, 41). The same source, published in 2017, reports that [translation] "transgender and transsexual people cannot apply to change their sex designation on their identity documents" (Quebec 2017, 41). However, US Country Reports 2018 indicates that "[n]o laws prevent transgender persons from identifying with their chosen gender" (US 13 Mar. 2019, 28).

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), same-sex marriage is not recognized in Madagascar (ILGA Mar. 2019, 528). Article 2 of Law No.°2007-022 of 20 August 2007 on marriage and matrimonial régimes (Loi n° 2007-022 du 20 août 2007 relative au mariage et aux régimes matrimoniaux) provides the following:

[translation]

No person shall marry another person of the same sex, either before the officer of civil status or in a traditional ceremony. (Madagascar 2007)

3. Societal Attitudes and Treatment

Sources report that homosexuality is a [translation] "taboo" subject in Madagascar (Midi Madagasikara 15 Apr. 2017; Quebec 2017, 41), as is transsexuality (Midi Madagasikara 15 Apr. 2017). According to some sources, sexual and gender minorities typically hide in order to live as their true selves (Midi Madagasikara 15 Apr. 2017; Dazed 31 May 2018). In the Dazed article, Tom Maguire states the following: "So many LGBT people in Madagascar live their life in secret by keeping their identity hidden from those closest to them" and that "[a] number of people in Antananarivo have a wife and kids who are unaware of their sexuality" (Dazed 31 May 2018).

Some sources indicate that sexual and gender minorities face "stigma," especially in rural areas (US 13 Mar. 2019, 28; Freedom House 29 Jan. 2019, Sec. F4; Bertelsmann Stiftung 2018, 12). According to the guide by the Department of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion of Quebec, they are often rejected by their families (Quebec 2017, 41). According to L'Express de Madagascar, the NGO Madagascar LGBT Solidarity Network (Réseau Madagascar Solidarité LGBT) [see section 5 of this Response] receives 38 complaints for homophobia per week (L'Express de Madagascar 18 May 2019). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The guide by the Department of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion of Quebec notes that Malagasy society is less accepting toward transgender, transsexual and lesbian people (Quebec 2017, 41). On the other hand, the author of the News24 article states that, according to the queer people he interviewed for his report, "Malagasy people are more accepting of lesbians than of gay men" (News24 4 Feb. 2018).

3.1 Discrimination

Sources indicate that sexual and gender minorities are often discriminated against (Dazed 31 May 2018; News24 4 Feb. 2018). This discrimination is particularly present in the workplace (News24 4 Feb. 2018) and in access to employment (US 13 Mar. 2019, 32; Freedom House 29 Jan. 2019, Sec. F4; Bertelsmann Stiftung 2018, 12). However, US Country Reports 2018 states that there were "no reports of discrimination in housing, employment, nationality laws, or access to government services" (US 13 Mar. 2019, 28). Sources indicate that there can be discrimination within families (US 13 Mar. 2019, 28; Bertelsmann Stiftung 2018, 12).

3.2 Violence

According to sources, members of the LGBT community experience acts of violence (Freedom House 29 Jan. 2019, Sec. F4; News24 4 Feb. 2018; Quebec 2017, 41). The NGO Madagascar LGBT Solidarity Network reports that homophobia may manifest itself as [translation] "physical or verbal assault" (L'Express de Madagascar 18 May 2019). The photographer Tom Maguire also stated in Dazed magazine that he heard many stories of people facing physical and verbal abuse when he lived with that community for a month in 2017 (Dazed 31 May 2018).

3.3 Acceptance

Media sources report that society is becoming more and more open toward sexual and gender minorities and is starting to accept them (News24 4 Feb. 2018) or that the [translation] "mindset is starting to change" (L'Express de Madagascar 1 Dec. 2018). According to News24, "Madagascar has become more accepting of queer people in the past decade" (News24 4 Feb. 2018). The article in Midi Madagasikara also indicates that people who live in the capital are more tolerant toward members of the LGBT community, which allows them to live their lives somewhat more openly in nightclubs, where they can kiss each other or hold hands (Midi Madagasikara 15 Apr. 2017).

Information on the treatment of family members of sexual and gender minorities by society and the authorities could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. State Protection

Sources indicate that there are no laws in Madagascar protecting sexual and gender minorities against discrimination (US 13 Mar. 2019, 28; ILGA Mar. 2019, 536; Freedom House 29 Jan. 2019, Sec. F4).

4.1 Police

Information on the police response to complaints from sexual and gender minorities or how they are treated was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to US Country Reports 2018, there were no reports of police "inciting, perpetrating, or condoning violence against LGBTI individuals" (US 13 Mar. 2019, 28). However, photographer Tom Maguire reports that the police "do very little" in response to the physical and verbal violence faced by sexual and gender minorities (Dazed 31 May 2018). According to L'Express de Madagascar, the police refused to pursue the investigation when a trans person was killed in Mahajanga in 2019 (L'Express de Madagascar 18 May 2019). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4.2 Judicial System

Information on the judicial system's effectiveness in protecting sexual and gender minorities could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

5. Support Services

Dazed reports that there is an NGO or network called Solidarity MSM [men having sex with men] (Solidarité des MSM), that offers support to sexual and gender minorities affected by HIV/AIDS (Dazed 31 May 2018). Midi Madagasikara also mentions this organization and reports that it works to fight discrimination and stigma against members of the LGBT community (Midi Madagasikara 2 Dec. 2014). The same source states that Solidarity MSM was created in 2008, and in 2014 it included 14 associations (Midi Madagasikara 2 Dec. 2014). According to the Rainbow Collective (Collectif Arc-en-ciel, CAEC) [3], in 2016, it included 16 LGBT associations from Madagascar (CAEC 4 Oct. 2016). Sources report that the Indian Ocean area's first regional LGBT network was created in Antananarivo in [September (CAEC 4 Oct. 2016)] 2016 by organizations from Seychelles, Réunion, Mauritius, and Madagascar (ILGA Mar. 2019, 96; CAEC 4 Oct. 2016), including Solidarity MSM (CAEC 4 Oct. 2016).

L'Express de Madagascar reports that there is an NGO called Réseau Madagascar Solidarité LGBT in Madagascar (L'Express de Madagascar 18 May 2019) and that it [translation] "has 16 satellites in 10 different cities across the [country]" (L'Express de Madagascar 1 Dec. 2018).

Sources mention two other organizations: The Gay and Lesbian Association of Madagascar (l'Association des gays et lesbiennes de Madagascar, AGLM) (IRRI n.d.; ACTSA n.d.) and Ezaka Boeny (News24 4 Feb. 2018; ACTSA n.d.). According to sources, Ezaka Boeny is based in Mahajanga and offers support to LGBT people facing discrimination, violence and workplace harassment (News24 4 Feb. 2018) or works in prevention, treatment and psychosocial care for people affected by HIV/AIDS (ACTSA n.d.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] Dazed is a London-based alternative fashion and culture magazine (Dazed 10 Aug. 2008).

[2] L'Express de Madagascar is a bilingual French-Malagasy newspaper whose website is updated on a daily basis; it [translation] "seeks to remain independent from the ruling party and the opposition" and is "one of the most-visited Malagasy websites" (Courrier international n.d.).

[3] [translation] "The Rainbow Collective (Collectif Arc-en-ciel, CAEC) is a Mauritian NGO that supports the LGBTQ+ community. The association fights homophobia and different forms of discrimination related to gender identity and sexual orientation" (CAEC n.d.).

References

Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA). N.d. "ACTSA LGBT+ Organisations in Southern Africa Resource." [Accessed 17 Oct. 2019]

Bertelsmann Stiftung. 2018. "Madagascar Country Report." Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformation Index (BTI) 2018. [Accessed 10 Oct. 2019]

Collectif Arc-en-ciel (CAEC). 4 October 2016. "Première coalition régionale LGBT+ de l'Océan Indien !" [Accessed 16 Oct. 2019; Google cache from 7 Oct. 2019]

Collectif Arc-en-ciel (CAEC). N.d. "Qui sommes-nous ?" [Accessed 16 Oct. 2019]

Courrier international. N.d. "L'Express de Madagascar." [Accessed 16 Oct. 2019]

Dazed. 31 May 2018. Lexi Manatakis. "Being Queer in Madagascar, One of the World's Most Underreported Countries." [Accessed 10 Oct. 2019]

Dazed. 10 August 2008. "Dazed and Confused." [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019]

L'Express de Madagascar. 18 May 2019. Mamisoa Antonia. "Homophobie – La communauté LGBT dénonce la discrimination." [Accessed 20 Sept. 2019]

L'Express de Madagascar. 1 December 2018. Ricky Ramanan. "Journée mondiale contre le Sida – Une soirée pour la fierté des LGBT, ce soir au CFM." [Accessed 20 Sept. 2019]

Freedom House. 29 January 2019. "Madagascar." Freedom in the World 2019. [Accessed 20 Sept. 2019]

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). March 2019. Lucas Ramón Mendos. "Madagascar." State-Sponsored Homophobia 2019. [Accessed 10 Oct. 2019]

International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI). N.d. Rhiannon Archer. "Madagascar LGBTI Resources." [Accessed 17 Oct. 2019]

Madagascar. 2007. Loi n° 2007-022 du 20 août 2007 relative au mariage et aux régimes matrimoniaux. [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019]

Madagascar. 1972 (amended in 2005). Code pénal. [Accessed 15 Oct. 2019]

Midi Madagasikara. 15 April 2017. "LGBT à Madagascar: le monde de la nuit, tolérant mais…." [Accessed 20 Sept. 2019]

Midi Madagasikara. 2 December 2014. "MSM: 'À bas la stigmatisation et la discrimination'." [Accessed 16 Oct. 2019]

News24. 4 February 2018. Domoina Ratsara. "Madagascar's Secret Society." [Accessed 20 Sept. 2019]

Quebec. 2017. Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion, Service de la société inclusive et de l'interculturalisme. Réalités juridiques et sociales des minorités sexuelles dans les principaux pays d'origine des personnes nouvellement arrivées au Québec : guide d'information. [Accessed 20 Sept. 2019]

United States (US). 13 March 2019. Department of State. "Madagascar." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018. [Accessed 10 Oct. 2019]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: African Men for Sexual Health and Rights; Association Fifafi Bongolava; Association Jaïro Atsimo; Association Mitaha; International Refugee Rights Initiative; OutRight Action International; Pan Africa ILGA; United Nations – UNAIDS.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; ecoi.net; Equaldex; Factiva; Gay Voyageur; Global Citizen; GlobalGayz; Human Rights Watch; Lonely Planet; Mada-actus.info; UN – Refworld; US – Peace Corps.