Article 20 of the Eswatini Constitution provides for equality before the law and non-discrimination but does not prevent discrimination on the grounds of sex, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people are extremely marginalised in Eswatini. There is no legislation in the State party that provides legal recognition to LBTI people or protects them from discrimination and stigma.
Eswatini’s perspective on same-sex conduct is governed by colonial-era common law (1907) that criminalises sodomy, defined as same-sex sexual relations between men, although there is no clear sentence specified for this offense. The situation regarding women is unclear, however, and there appear to be no specific provisions criminalising sexual relations between females. Eswatini also has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, and therefore, it would be likely that LBTI constituencies are extremely vulnerable to infections.
The last submitted State party report was in 2012 and contained no information on LGBTI constituencies.
The CEDAW Committee did not provide any SOGIESC-focused recommendations to Eswatini in 2014. It provided a few general recommendations that may apply to LBTI people in Eswatini.
Firstly, the Committee urged the State party to enact into law the bill on sexual offenses and domestic violence against women, especially marital rape and sexual harassment, without further delay; and to provide survivors access to psychosocial and legal support.
Secondly, the Committee also asked the State party to provide for a comprehensive HIV/AIDS response strategy that includes prevention and free antiretroviral treatment to all women living with HIV/AIDS. Thirdly, to provide safe abortion and post-abortion care services.
Lastly, the Committee urged the Eswatini to provide support to survivors of trafficking and ‘prostitution’ by providing them with access to shelters, legal, medical and psychosocial assistance, and alternative income-generating opportunities and stepping up efforts aimed at bilateral, regional, and international cooperation to prevent trafficking, including by exchanging information and harmonising legal procedures to prosecute traffickers, in particular with States members of the Southern African Development Community.
The List of Issues also does not contain LBTI-inclusive questions.