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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/23/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

New edicts drawing criticism across the world

Life in prison for certain sexual acts are part of recently passed legislation on the part of Ugandan lawmakers. Approved last week, the new laws are drawing criticism worldwide. Some human rights campaigners call it the worst such legislation in the world.

Despite criticism of the anti-gay legislation abroad, it is supported by many Ugandans who say the country has the right to pass laws that protect its children.

Despite criticism of the anti-gay legislation abroad, it is supported by many Ugandans who say the country has the right to pass laws that protect its children.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/23/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Uganda, homosexuality, anti-homosexuality, life imprisonment, legislation


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - First introduced in 2009, the laws were widely condemned for including the death penalty. This was later removed from the revised version passed by parliament.

The new laws instead substitute life imprisonment as the penalty for a homosexual act in which one of the partners is infected with HIV. There are also rulings against sex with minors and the disabled, and for repeated sexual offenses among consenting adults.

According to the office of a spokeswoman for Uganda's parliament, the bill also prescribes a seven-year jail term for a person who "conducts a marriage ceremony" for same-sex couples.

Lawmakers passed the bill unanimously without objection.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni must sign the bill within 30 days for it to become law. He has spoken ill about homosexuals before, but Museveni has recently softened his position on the matter, saying he is only opposed to gays who appear to "promote" themselves.

"In our society there were a few homosexuals," Museveni said earlier this year. "There was no persecution, no killings and no marginalization of these people, but they were regarded as deviants."

Reacting with extreme horror, Frank Mugisha, a prominent Ugandan gay activist called the legislation "a truly terrifying day for human rights in Uganda," calling it "the worst anti-gay law in the world." Mugisha urged the country's president not to sign the bill into law.

"It will open a new era of fear and persecution," he said. "If this law is signed by President Museveni, I'd be thrown in jail for life and in all likelihood killed."

Homosexuality had already long been illegal in Uganda under a colonial-era law that criminalized sexual acts "against the order of nature." The Ugandan lawmaker who wrote the new legislation argued that tougher legislation was needed because homosexuals from the West threatened to destroy Ugandan families and were allegedly "recruiting" Ugandan children into homosexual lifestyles.

Despite criticism of the anti-gay legislation abroad, it is supported by many Ugandans who say the country has the right to pass laws that protect its children.

In addition, some 38 African countries, about 70 percent of the continent criminalize homosexual activity.



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