Uganda gov’t passes anti-gay bill

JOHANNESBURG — Uganda’s parliament on Friday passed tough anti-gay legislation that will punish those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” with life in jail.

Homosexual acts have long been illegal in Uganda and many other parts of the continent, where gays and lesbians are at risk of being beaten up, jailed and even killed. Supporters of Uganda’s bill argued that tougher measures were needed to protect family values.

Under the bill approved Friday, “aggravated homosexuality” includes sex acts between adults and minors. Much of the debate about the law focused on allegations by conservative pastors and parliamentarians that homosexual adults from abroad come to Uganda to “recruit” minors.

“Aggravated homosexuality” can also apply in cases where one participant is HIV-positive or disabled. The bill also makes it an offense for someone aware of homosexual activity to fail to report it. Uganda is a deeply conservative country, where evangelical preachers and tabloid editors have run vehement anti-gay campaigns in recent years. The law must be signed by President Yoweri Museveni within 30 days to become law.

Parliament also recently passed anti-pornography legislation that many say will ban women from wearing miniskirts. It prohibits “unclothed or under-clothed parts of the human body, such as breasts, thighs, buttocks and genitalia.” It also bans erotic behavior intended to cause sexual excitement.

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