Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Swaziland LGBTI Resources

(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists) 

Sodomy is prohibited as a common law offence punishable by death or a lesser punishment at the discretion of the court.

Only sexual acts between men are prohibited under Swazi law.

In 2005, the Swazi government planned to include a prohibition of all same-sex acts in the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, with proposed penalties of a minimum 2 year imprisonment. This reform was not adopted, however.


No asylum cases of LGBTI persons fleeing Swaziland are listed here, but we welcome suggestions.


The common law offence of sodomy has not recently been used to arrest gay men, according to the US State Department 2012 report. While the Swazi government advised the Human Rights Council that no one has been prosecuted for sexual orientation offences to date, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported in 2012 that persons engaged in same-sex relationships are ‘arrested and jailed’.

Societal discrimination against LGBTI populations is widespread, thereby compelling LGBTI persons to conceal their sexual orientation in the country, according to the US State Department and Freedom House. Gay men and lesbian women who are open about their identity face censure and exclusion from the chiefdom patronage system, which can result in eviction from one’s home. Chiefs, pastors and members of government are hostile to LGBTI persons and refer to same-sex sexual conduct as neither Swazi nor Christian, according to the same report.

During the Universal Periodic Review carried out in October 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council, the US urged the Swazi government to decriminalise same-sex relations and to take steps to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.  However, Swaziland has rejected these recommendations. According to Pambazuka News, Swaziland’s Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini, has described homosexuality as ‘an abnormality and a sickness’.


Availability of organisations is scarce due to their difficulty to register with the government. 


We have no specialist on LGBTI issues in Swaziland, but would welcome suggestions.



Researched by: Minos Mouzourakis

Email: minosmouzourakisatgmail [dot] com