African Countries Continue to Struggle With LGBT Issues
Several African countries offer little or no rights to their gay citizens. Some gay Africans are penalized for being who they are or even worse -- sentenced to life in prison or death. The Star Observer reported that a Ugandan cabinet minister stormed an LGBT rights meeting and claimed that the function was illegal.
The group said that the Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo had police shutdown the meeting that was being held in a hotel. The minister said that the meeting was against the law and that the activists had to leave the hotel or they would be physically removed by authorities.
Uganda is a landlocked country located in East Africa and borders Kenya.
Just a few days ago, the Uganda Parliament reintroduced a bill that would give the death penalty to anyone engaging in some consensual homosexual acts. The country’s government, however, said it does not support the proposed law, the Associated Press reported.
"As a parliamentary democracy the process of debate will continue," a government statement said. "Whilst the government of Uganda does not support this bill, it is required under our constitution to facilitate this debate. The facilitation of this debate should not be confused for the government’s support for this bill."
Amnesty International, an international human rights organization, said that the incident involving the gay rights meeting was "outrageous" and that Uganda’s government must protect the LGBT community.
"This is an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda," the secretary general of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty said. "The Government of Uganda must protect all people against threats, violence and harassment irrespective of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The Government’s claimed opposition to the bill needs to be supported through their actions," he said. "The Ugandan government must allow legitimate, peaceful gatherings of human rights defenders, including those working on LGBT rights."
The bill was written by Ugandan legislator David Bahati who first introduced it in 2009. He claimed that the bill would "protect" Ugandan children from Western gays who "lure them with money and other promises."
Gay men who are infected with AIDS and are caught having sex could receive the death penalty, while others would face life in prison for other offenses. Heterosexuals would also be impacted if they did not to report homosexual activities to the authorities.
Many African leaders have not supported LGBT rights in the past and have been straightforward about their views on homosexuality. On Tuesday, Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh said that he would never accept homosexuality, Indepth African Magazine reported.
"We know what human rights are. Human beings of the same sex cannot marry or date," Jammeh said while swearing in 15 ministers of his new government. "If you think it is human rights to destroy our culture, you are making a great mistake because if you are in the Gambia, you are in the wrong place then," he added.
In 2008, Jammeh threatened Gambia’s gay men and said they had to leave the country or he would "cut off their head."