On January 23, Angola, a southern African country, removed the “vices against nature” clause from its law, which has been understood as a prohibition on same-sex relationships.

The criminalization of queer sexual orientations became law when Portugal colonized the country. This is the Angola parliament’s first change in penal code since its 1975 independence. It also establishes sentences of up to 2 years for those who refuse services and employment to individuals based on sexual orientation.

Human Rights Watch Director of LGBT reform Graeme Reid told BuzzFeed News, “They are taking a proactive step in preventing discrimination, rather than just getting rid of a discriminatory law.”

While the “vices against nature” provision was not officially enacted to punish same-sex couples, it gave state support to restrict the daily lives of LGBTQ people and expose them to further violence.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, the removal of the oppressive provision comes after Angola legally recognized Iris Angola, the only gay rights lobbying groups in the country.

São Tomé and Príncipe, African countries which were former Portuguese colonies, also decriminalized homosexuality in 2012.