Tag Archives: Africa gay rights

Nigeria homophobia – 54 charged over gay wedding


Islamic sharia enforcers called Hisbah on patrol in the northern Nigerian city of KanoImage copyright AFP
Image caption Much of northern Nigeria is governed by Islamic law, or Sharia

Prosecutors in the northern Nigeria state of Kaduna have charged a group of 53 people with conspiring to celebrate a gay wedding.

The accused, arrested last Saturday, have denied the allegations, with their lawyers saying they were illegally detained.

The court released the group on bail and the case was remanded to 8 May.

Homosexual acts are banned in socially conservative Nigeria and are punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

During a court appearance in Chediya-Zaria, the group pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, unlawful assembly and belonging to an unlawful society.

Defence lawyer Yunusa Umar said most of the accused were students and had been illegally detained for more than 24 hours, the local Premium Times newspaper reported.

Gay rights campaigners who have been in touch with people involved in the case told the BBC’s Stephanie Hegarty in Lagos the accused were arrested at a birthday party, not a wedding.

Nigeria has an influential Christian evangelical movement in the south and strong support for Islamic law in the north, both of which oppose homosexuality.

In January 2014, the Hisbah, or Islamic police, in Bauchi state raided several locations and arrested about a dozen men accused of sodomy acts.

Some of the men later appeared before a Sharia court for a bail hearing and an angry crowd gathered outside, demanding swift and severe punishment.

Stones were thrown at the court and the hearing was halted.

Police had to shoot in the air to disperse the mob and get the suspects back to prison safely, though there they are also vulnerable.

The ban on homosexuality, brought into effect in 2014, is used by some police officers and members of the public to legitimise abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Extortion, mob violence, arbitrary arrest, torture in detention, and physical and sexual violence” are common against people suspected of homosexual activities, HRW said in a 2016 report.

Gambia – anti-gay laws


Gambia’s President Jammeh asked to reject anti-gay law

The Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh at a polling station in Banjul, The Gambia, on Thursday 24 November 2011President Jammeh has 30 days from the date the bill was passed to sign it into law or return it to parliament

Leading rights groups have called on Gambian President Yahya Jammeh not to approve tough new anti-gay legislation.

Homosexual acts are already illegal in The Gambia, but MPs passed a bill on 25 August imposing life sentences for “aggravated homosexuality”.

The bill promoted “state-sponsored homophobia”, the rights groups said.

Mr Jammeh is known for his strong opposition to gay rights. He has called gay people “vermin” and once threatened to behead them.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court struck down a similar law last month on the grounds that it was passed by MPs without a quorum.

‘Deep fear’

Its ruling followed an outcry from rights groups and Western governments – US President Barack Obama described the legislation as “odious”.

A Ugandan man who was seeking asylum in the US in 2010 because of Uganda's stance towards homosexualityA global campaign was waged to scrap the anti-gay legislation in Uganda

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the definition of “aggravated homosexuality” was vague in The Gambian bill.

Among those who could be given the life sentence were “repeat offenders” and people living with HIV who are suspected to be gay or lesbians, they said in a joint statement.

A person who had homosexual relations with a minor could also be convicted of “aggravated homosexuality”, Reuters news agency reports.

“President Jammeh should not approve this profoundly damaging act that violates international human rights law,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for West and Central Africa.

Graeme Reid of HRW said it would “only heap further stigma on people who are already marginalised and living in a climate of deep fear and hate in Gambia”.

Under current laws, homosexual acts are already punishable by up to 14 years in prison in The Gambia.

Mr Jammeh has 30 days from the date the bill was passed to sign it into law or return it to parliament for further review.

The Gambia is a popular tourist destination, famous for its beaches.  BBC

Uganda – Museveni denies that scrapping of anti-gay law linked to Africa-US

Mail and Guardian

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni denied on Saturday that the scrapping of a tough anti-gay law had anything to do with an Africa-US summit next week.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni denied on Saturday that the scrapping of a tough anti-gay law had anything to do with an Africa-US summit next week. (Reuters)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni denied Saturday that the scrapping of a tough anti-gay law he had championed had anything to do with an Africa-US summit next week.

The legislation, which would have seen homosexuals jailed for life, caused an international outcry and was overturned by the country’s constitutional court on Friday.

Museveni, who is due in Washington for a summit between African leaders and US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, said the court’s decision had “nothing to do” with his visit, nor the sanctions and travel bans the United States had slapped on its east African ally because of the laws.

US Secretary of State John Kerry had likened the law to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany, and several international donors suspended aid to Uganda in protest.

But Museveni denied Uganda had caved in to international pressure. “I was going to Washington with the bill when it was stopped. It has nothing to do with us going to Washington,” he said. And he insisted that the freezing of aid has had no effect on the country. “What has happened to Uganda now? Have you seen any catastrophe? Isn’t the economy growing?” But homosexuality in Uganda remains illegal and punishable by jail sentences under previous legislation, which is expected to return after the court’s decision.

However, Christian evangelical pastor Martin Ssempa, who has campaigned to “kick sodomy out of Uganda”, described the court’s decision as a “judicial abortion”, designed to polish Uganda’s reputation before the US-Africa summit. He said he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Constitutional Court said the law was “null and void” because it had been passed without the necessary quorum of lawmakers. Museveni said his National Resistance Movement, which has been in power since 1986, would discuss the law at its next party meeting. – AFP M&G

Kenyan MP says homosexuality as dangerous as terrorism


Leading Kenyan MP says homosexuality ‘as serious as terrorism’

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Homosexuality in Kenya is as bad a problem as terrorism, the ruling party’s parliamentary leader said on Wednesday, but argued against stepping up legal sanctions on the grounds that existing laws were tough enough.

Aden Duale, the majority leader from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee coalition, was responding to a group of MPs demanding tougher laws.

“Can’t we just be brave enough, seeing that we are a sovereign state, and outlaw gayism and lesbianism, the way Uganda has done?” legislator Alois Lentoimaga said.

Uganda has voted for life imprisonment for some homosexual acts, prompting some international donors to suspend aid.

Duale, who speaks on behalf of the Kenyan government in the assembly, said: “We need to go on and address this issue the way we want to address terrorism …

“It’s as serious as terrorism. It’s as serious as any other social evil,” Duale said, referring to a spate of attacks by al Qaeda-linked Somali Islamist militants carried out in retaliation for Kenya’s intervention in neighbouring Somalia.

But he said the Kenyan constitution and the penal code already had sufficient anti-gay provisions, denying the government was reluctant to tighten such laws for fear of losing international aid.

Duale said 595 cases of homosexuality had been investigated in Kenya since 2010, when a new constitution was adopted, and courts had convicted or acquitted the accused, while police had found no organisations openly championing homosexuality in violation of the law.

“We do not need to go the Uganda way, we have the constitution and the penal code to deal with homosexuality, and so this debate is finished, we will not be enacting any new tougher laws,” Duale told Reuters later.

Homosexuality is broadly taboo in Africa and illegal in 37 countries. Fear of violence, imprisonment and loss of jobs means few gays in Africa are open about their sexuality.

Kenya’s penal code says any person “who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is guilty of a felony and can be jailed for 14 years.

Anti-gay groups have emerged in Kenya after Nigeria and Uganda toughened up laws against homosexuals.

One of these groups, The Save Our Men Initiative, has said it is launching a “Zuia Sodom Kabisa” campaign, meaning “prevent Sodom completely” in Swahili, to “save the family, save youth, save Kenya”.

Nigeria has outlawed same-sex relationships. Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has said homosexuals are “vermin” and must be fought like malaria-causing mosquitoes. Reuters


European Parliament backs Uganda travcel ban over anti-gay laws

Observer (Kampala)/allAfrica

Uganda: Anti-Gay Law – Museveni, Kadaga Face Travel Bans

By Norman Miwambo & Edris Kiggundu


Photo:                   Uganda Media Centre

Ugandan President Museveni signing the Anti Homosexuality Bill into law.    

The Brussels-based European Parliament has backed a resolution imposing travel and visa bans against “key individuals responsible for drafting and adopting” the anti-homosexuality laws in Nigeria and Uganda.

During its sitting on March 13, the members unanimously criticised the laws passed in both countries and said they were a “grave menace” to human rights. The members approved the non-binding resolution by a large majority which said the two countries violated the Cotonou accord on human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law.

This means that individual countries will choose whether to effect the bans or not. Uganda’s Parliament in a unanimous vote controversially passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill on December 20, 2013, and on February 24, President Museveni signed it into law.

The anti-gay law calls for “repeat homosexuals” to be jailed for life, outlaws any promotion of homosexuality and requires people to report homosexuals. Earlier in Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan had signed the anti-gay law in January though it had been passed in November 2013.

In addition to the travel and visa ban; it was also suggested that there should be a review of EU’s “development aid strategy with Uganda and Nigeria, with a view to redirecting aid to civil society and other organisations rather than suspending it”, according to the EU parliamentary statement.

Targeting key individuals responsible for drafting and adopting the law casts a wide net on many individuals. The law’s key promoter and originator David Bahati (MP for Ndorwa West) could be targeted for drafting the law.

Both President Museveni who signed it into law, and Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who presided at the voting and MPs who voted overwhelmingly for the law’s passage, could be targeted for leading the charge for the law’s adoption, among others. A senior official in the ministry of Foreign Affairs who requested to remain anonymous, said last week that the EU resolution was highhanded.

“In diplomatic practice, there is respect for sovereignty and culture. One country cannot seek to impose its cultures on other people,” the official said.

Bahati’s initial bill had proposed a death penalty for ” aggravated homosexuality”. But the death penalty was dropped in the face of fierce pressure from human rights activists and the West. It was, instead, replaced by a life sentence.

Uganda’s anti-gay law has already triggered aid cuts from some donor countries and agencies. So far, at least Shs 262 billion worth of donor aid has been withheld. Leading the way was the World Bank which announced last month that it had postponed a $90m (Shs 220bn) loan to Uganda over the law.

In addition, Norway and Denmark withheld aid of $8m and $9m respectively. EU Budget Gommissioner Janusz Lewandowski, representing the Commission, told European MPs that they had already had “very frank discussions” with the two countries, with more talks planned.

“The outcome of these contacts will be very important in determining how our relations with Nigeria and Uganda develop under the Cotonou accord,” Lewandowski said.

The resolution on travel and visa bans came days after activists in London including Peter Tatchell, the director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, urged governments around the world to impose stringent punishments on the key movers of the new homophobic legislation.

Mr Tatchell said while he did not support aid cuts to Uganda, he favoured travel sanctions against President Museveni, Bahati, the minister for Ethics Simon Lokodo and pastors Martin Sempa, Solomon Male and Scott Lively for their vocal support of Uganda’s anti-gay law.

“They are implicated in stirring homophobic hatred, which has coincided with an escalation of threats and mob violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans,” Mr Tatchell said.

“These people are modern-day ideological inheritors of Dr Goebbels’ hateful propaganda methods, with their vile slurs equating homosexuality with child molestation, rape and bestiality.” allAfrica

Ugandan activists to challenge anti-gay law in court

11 March 2014
Uganda anti-homosexuality law challenged in court

The court action is being backed by about 50 civil society groups

Ugandan rights activists and politicians have filed a legal challenge to overturn a tough anti-gay law condemned by Western donors.

The law violated the rights of gay people and subjected them to “cruel and inhuman punishment”, they said.

Several cases of “violence and retaliation” have been reported since President Yoweri Museveni signed the law last month, the activists added.

Uganda is a deeply conservative society where many people oppose gay rights.

There is only one thing I fear – living in a society that has no room for minorities” Fox Odoi Ugandan MP

However, some people are beginning to question whether punishments proposed in the law are too harsh, reports BBC Uganda correspondent Catherine Byaruhanga.

It allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality” and also criminalises the “promotion of homosexuality”.

Tenants evicted’
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which represents about 50 groups, filed the petition in the Constitutional Court, asking for the law to be annulled.

Anti-gay supporters in Uganda rejoiced when the law was passed
Ruling party MP Fox Odoi, who is Mr Museveni’s former legal adviser, was among the lead petitioners.

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act

Life imprisonment for gay sex, including oral sex
Life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”, including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive
Life imprisonment for living in a same-sex marriage
Seven years for “attempting to commit homosexuality”
Between five and seven years in jail or a $40,700 (£24,500) fine or both for the promotion of homosexuality
Businesses or non-governmental organisations found guilty of the promotion of homosexuality would have their certificates of registration cancelled and directors could face seven years in jail

He broke ranks with his party by opposing the law in parliament, and said he did not fear a backlash from voters in the 2016 election, our reporter says.

“I don’t fear losing an election. There is only one thing I fear – living in a society that has no room for minorities. I will not live in a society that doesn’t respect and protect people who are different from the majority,” Mr Odoi said.

Prominent Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda also supported the court action.

“This Act not only represents an effort by the executive and parliament to scapegoat an unpopular minority for political gain, but we believe it also violates the highest law of our country,” he said.

Some people known or suspected to be gay had faced “violence and retaliation” since the law was signed, the coalition said in a statement, the AFP news agency reports.

It had documented 10 cases of arrests of people, and at least three cases of landlords evicting tenants, the coalition added.

Uganda’s authorities have defended the law, saying President Museveni wanted “to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation”.

The World Bank has postponed a $90m (£54m) loan to Uganda to improve its health services after the law was approved.

Several European nations – including Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden – have cut aid to Uganda to show their opposition to the law.

The sponsor of the law, MP David Bahati, insists that homosexuality is a “behaviour that can be learned and can be unlearned”.



Zimbabwe’s Mugabe backs Uganda on anti-gay law

Mail and Guardian
President Robert Mugabe has voiced his support of President Yoweri Museveni’s anti-gay laws in Uganda and hinted at following suit in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has thrown his weight behind Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws and hinted at a crackdown on homosexuals in his own country, state media reported on Monday.

He castigated the West for punishing Kampala with aid cuts after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a Bill that banned homosexuality in the east African country.

“They [the West] want to tell us … that it’s a violation of human rights, that is what they are doing to Museveni right now,” said Mugabe.

“The human right you have as a man is to marry another woman, not to get another man to marry. We refuse that,” said Mugabe at the weekend wedding reception of his only daughter, Bona.

Mugabe has said previously that homosexuality is un-African and has described gays and lesbians as worse than pigs and dogs.

Terrible world’
“It’s a terrible world we are in, a terrible world where people want to do things that they feel will enhance their own interests.”

Mugabe said until recently that he was not aware of the existence of an association of homosexuals in Zimbabwe and warned that he would want to know who belongs to the group.

“I understand we have a group of homosexuals in this country. I didn’t know until I was told the day before yesterday. So we want to check on who is in that group,” he said.

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) has long operated in the country despite Mugabe’s ranting against homosexuality.

Police have raided the Galz offices on several occasions and prosecutors laid charges against the association, accusing it of operating an unregistered organisation. But a magistrate dismissed the case last week.

Same-sex marriages are outlawed in Zimbabwe. – AFP