Africa

Uganda: Life in prison for 'gay acts'

Reuters

Uganda has passed a law that makes some gay acts punishable by life in prison, says a spokesperson for the legislature.

First introduced in parliament in 2009 as a private member's Bill, the law initially proposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts. (AFP)

Uganda's parliament passed a law on Friday that makes some gay acts punishable by life in prison, a spokesperson for the legislature said, a move that raised alarm among gays 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 gay 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.

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), said he would try to rally rights activists to have the law blocked by the courts. The president must agree and sign any Bill passed in parliament before it becomes law.

"We in the gay community are in a panic," said Mugisha. "People are afraid of walking in the streets, because they know how Ugandans like to take the law into their own hands." – Reuters

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