• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Alarm at life prison terms for homosexual acts

Uganda's parliament passed a law yesterday that makes some homosexual acts punishable by life in prison, a spokeswoman for the legislature said, a move that raised alarm among homosexuals who are already afraid to express their sexuality openly.

First introduced in parliament in 2009 as a private member's bill, the law initially proposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts in the conservative east African country.

It was later amended to remove the death penalty, but includes jail terms for anyone convicted, including life imprisonment for what it calls aggravated homosexuality.

Countries including the United States previously criticised the bill when it came before parliament. Germany cut off aid to Uganda late last year citing the bill as one of its concerns.

Widespread criticism of the law, and resistance from the executive, which is wary of antagonising Western donors, stalled its passage. But parliament has also been under pressure to push it through, especially from mainstream and evangelical churches.

Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, but the new law prohibits the "promotion" of gay rights and punishes anyone who "funds", "sponsors" or "abets" homosexuality.

Homosexuality is taboo in many African countries. It is illegal in 37 nations on the continent, and activists say few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and losing their jobs.

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said he would try to rally rights activists to have the law blocked in the courts.

The president must sign any bill before it is made law.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

201368