Rwandan gospel singer faces backlash after coming out as gay

Friends, family and public ostracise 35-year-old over sexuality

Zamira Rahim
Monday 16 September 2019 15:06 BST
Albert Nabonibo is a well-known gospel singer
Albert Nabonibo is a well-known gospel singer

A well-known Rwandan gospel singer is facing a public and personal backlash after coming out as a gay man.

Albert Nabonibo told a Christian YouTube channel that he was gay in an interview in August.

Being gay is not illegal in Rwanda but homophobia remains rife in the African country.

Mr Nabonibo said he came out in order to live normally and without pretence.

But he described the reaction from family, friends and the wider public as “horrible”.

“But there is no going back, because I have to live my real life,” he said.

“It’s so sad to see people you know abusing you.”

The singer has a day job as an accountant and is worried he will be fired due to his sexuality.

He said he had become an outcast at his workplace.

“There is a long list of [gay people] in your midst and they include pastors or churchgoers,” he said.

“This pretence encouraged me to speak out.”

Some of the 35-year-old’s closest friends have ostracised him because of his sexuality.

“This is crazy. I don’t understand why he thinks this is normal,” one friend said.

Another, a man who attends the singer’s church, said he was in “agony” because his family knew he socialised with Mr Nabonibo.

He has since blocked the singer from contacting him on his phone and online.

Many Rwandans have also condemned the singer on social media.

One commenter wrote: ”How can a gospel singer be gay?”

But amongst the backlash, a senior government official voiced support for Mr Nabonibo.

“All Rwandans are born and remain equal in rights and freedoms,” Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s state minister for foreign affairs, said on Twitter

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Although homosexuality is not criminalised in Rwanda, same-sex marriage is banned.

“Criticism and sadness. What does it matter?” Mr Nabonibo said.

“What’s important is that I have taken my choice.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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