Ugandans celebrate anti-gay Bill (pg 5)
HUNDREDS of Ugandans defied a downpour in Kampala to celebrate the signing of a controversial anti-gay Bill by President Yoweri Museveni.
“Everywhere, people are in groups talking about it. Even though it rained here, the city square had about 700 talking about it. It is the same in every corner. They are commending the president for signing the law,” Ugandan journalist, Richard Lukwago , told the Daily Graphic.
The new bill strengthened existing punishments for anyone caught having gay sex, imposing jail terms of up to life for "aggravated homosexuality" - including sex with a minor or while HIV positive.
It criminalised lesbianism for the first time and made it a crime to help individuals engage in homosexual acts
. Gay rights activists in Uganda have kicked against the law, describing it as a kick in the groin of human rights.
They have already declined an intention to legal challenge the new law.
The bill was originally introduced in 2009 and prescribed death penalty for offender but had to be amended because of public outcry.
The Ugandan President signed the bill into law in spite of pressure from the West, especially from the United States where President Barack Obama openly last Sunday that enacting an anti-gay law would complicate US relations with Uganda and would be a "step backward for all Ugandans."
In Africa, 37 countries,including Uganda, Nigeria, Sudan, Mauritania and Sierra Leone, all have laws specifically criminalizing homosexuality, one of the most debatable issues in the world.
Only South Africa has liberal laws that permit same sex marriage in Africa.
In Ghana, the Criminal Code prohibit unnatural carnal acts — a definition which is widely understood to include homosexuality, although, in practice, very few have been prosecuted for homosexual acts.