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Ugandans Debate Death Penalty for Gays

WI Staff | 12/23/2009, 3:17 p.m.

Proposed legislation would impose the death penalty for some gay Ugandans, and their family and friends could face up to seven years in jail if they fail to report them to authorities. Even landlords could be imprisoned for renting to homosexuals. Gay rights activists believe the bill fosters hatred against homosexuals. Many also believe the bill is part of a continent-wide backlash because Africa's gay community is becoming more vocal.

€It€s a question of visibility,€ said David Cato, who became an activist after he was beaten up four times, arrested twice, fired from his teaching job and outed in the press because he is gay. "When we come out and ask for our rights, they pass laws against us."

Gay rights activists say the legislation is likely to pass. But the bill is still being debated and could undergo changes before a vote, which has not yet been set.

The Ugandan legislation in its current form would mandate a death sentence for active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. "Serial offenders" also could face capital punishment, but the legislation does not define the term. Anyone convicted of a homosexual act faces life imprisonment.

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