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State Department Condemns Severe 'Aggravated Homosexuality' Law in Gambia: VIDEO

Yaya_Jammeh

The U.S. has condemned the decision of Gambia President Yahya Jammeh to approve a severe new law imposing life imprisonment for homosexual acts, reports ABC.

The law went into effect on October 9th. Homosexual acts had already been punishable with up to 14 years in prison.

The AP reported last week:

“It criminalizes ‘aggravated homosexuality’, which targets 'serial offenders' and people living with HIV or AIDS. Suspects can also be charged with aggravated homosexuality for engaging in homosexual acts with someone who is under 18, disabled or who has been drugged. The term also applies when the suspect is the parent or guardian of the other person or is 'in authority over' him or her."

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c70bfab2970b-300wiThe term “aggravated homosexuality” was borrowed from a Ugandan anti-gay law signed earlier this year that was eventually ruled unconstitutional.  More extreme anti-gay laws are expected to be enacted in Uganda shortly.

In a statement issued on Monday, State Department Director of Press Relations Jeff Rathke said:

"We are dismayed by President Jammeh's decision to sign into law legislation that further restricts the rights of L.G.B.T. individuals and are deeply concerned about the reported arrests and detention of suspected L.G.B.T. individuals in The Gambia.”

Rathke also voiced concerns about reports of recent arrests in Gambia of at least four men, a 17-year-old boy and nine women accused of committing homosexual acts.

Last week, Amnesty International accused Gambian security forces of resorting to beatings and the threat of rape and other abuses if the detainees did not confess.

Gambian officials have declined to comment on the new law or the arrests.

Watch a Young Turks report on Gambia's anti-gay law, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "State Department Condemns Severe 'Aggravated Homosexuality' Law in Gambia: VIDEO" »


Ugandan Lawmaker Wants to Pass New, Harsher Anti-gay Bill as 'Christmas Gift' to Nation

Abdu Latif Ssebagala

A Ugandan lawmaker who helped draft the country's revised anti-gay law is hoping to have the bill passed this year as a "Christmas gift" for Ugandans, Reunters reports:

Abdu Latif Ssebagala, a member of a parliamentary committee formed in September to draft a new version, said it had finished the bill and was ready to present it to parliament for debate.

"The draft is ready and we have strengthened the law, especially in areas of promotion and luring children. Next week we expect to meet the speaker to fix a date for the re-tabling to parliament," he told Reuters.

Ssebagala said the committee wanted it passed within weeks so that Ugandans "can celebrate it as a Christmas gift".

We previously reported on why the new anti-gay bill is in many ways worse than last year's law that was invalidated because of legal technicalities. In addition to Uganda's gay community, there are widespread fears the new bill will also target newspapers, human rights groups, and even landlords who do business with the LGBT community. 

In an editorial published last month in Uganda's leading newspaper, president Yoweri Museveni warned that the country would be devastated by trade boycotts should lawmakers pursue additional anti-gay legislation. 


Uganda's New Homophobic Bill Is Even Worse Than Last Year's Anti-Homosexuality Act

A government committee in Uganda has drafted a new anti-gay law, one that has the potential to be even more draconian than the country's (now-invalidated) Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The Guardian reports:

According to a leaked copy of the new draft law, MPs have instead focused on outlawing the “promotion” of homosexuality – a potentially far more repressive and wide-reaching measure.

MugishaFrank Mugisha [pictured], a gay-rights activist, said: “People don’t realise that the ‘promotion’ part of it will affect everybody. If newspapers report about homosexuality it could be seen as promotion. My Twitter account could be seen as promotion. All human rights groups that include LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] rights defence in their activities could be accused of promotion.”

According to the draft, anyone convicted of “promoting” homosexuality would be liable to seven years in prison. “We have confirmed that the draft comes from the cabinet. Their plan is to present it to parliament as soon as possible, before the end of the year,” Mugisha said.

“They have just twisted the language but it is the same thing. It’s actually worse because the ‘promotion’ part is harsher and it will punish the funding of LGBT and human rights groups.”

In an editorial published earlier this month in Uganda's leading newspaper, president Yoweri Museveni warned that the country would be devastated by trade boycotts should lawmakers pursue additional anti-gay legislation. 

Check out the draft legislation below:


Ugandan LGBT Activist Sam Ganafa Avoids Homophobic Court Trial

GanafaIn November of 2013 as Uganda’s parliament moved forward in its decision to turn its anti-homosexuality act into law, Sam Ganafa was arrested along with three other LGBT rights activists. Ganafa, who leads Spectrum Uganda, an Ugandan LGBT organization that specializes in HIV education, is one of the country’s most prominent queer public figures. Ganafa and the three individuals were arrested while at a party together before being shuffled through the Ugandan court system notorious for its mishandling of defendants involved in LGBT cases.

Ganafa’s three companions have since fled Uganda for neighboring Kenya, where many LGBT refugees face a different, yet familiar kind of persecution.

On October 8, the charges against Ganafa were dropped after a long struggle  going back and forth with legal officials to set a proper court date. Technically Ganafa had been arrested on suspicions of violating the country’s strict laws prohibiting sodomy.

As is typically the case, authorities attempted to keep him in jail indefinitely due to not having sufficient evidence to bring his case to trial. Though Ganafa is pleased with being free, he still remains wary of local law enforcement who’ve vowed to come after him again.

“The court action is a good sign, because it’s independent and opens a window of hope for us,” Ganafa said in an interview with Erasing 76 Crimes in an exchange by Facebook message. “We also expect the same action to be taken in other cases currently before the courts. I pray that the courts will ward off possible pressures from the anti-gay lobby.”


Trade Boycotts Force Ugandan President to Reconsider Anti-Gay Laws

President Yoweri Museveni

There's a special place in hell for Anita Bryant for helping to popularize the myth that the gays are after the world's children to recruit them to the cause, like some fabulously well-dressed militant regime. This fueled one of the cries - and lies - spread 'round the world that people and governments are anti-gay because they just want to protect the children. We've seen it in Russia, the U.S., and of course Uganda.

The "protecting the children" rational is a lie through and through, of course, and Uganda at least is proving it to be as such. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claimed that he signed on to his country's viciously anti-gay laws to ostensibly protect children and prevent them from being "recruited" into the deviant homosexual lifestyle, but either he never really believed that or the "recruitment of children" isn't that big of a deal as Museveni is now backtracking on those laws.

Though the author of the anti-gay laws said that any international backlash would be "worth it", President Museveni is singing a different tune, saying that his country could endure aid cuts, but that trade boycotts would be devastating:

It is about us deciding what is best for our country in the realm of foreign trade, which is such an important stimulus for growth and transformation that it has no equal.

He still takes a chance to make a nasty stab at homosexuals and still blame them for his country's troubles, however:

It is now an issue of a snake in a clay cooking pot. We want to kill the snake, but we do not want to break the pot. We want to protect our children from homosexuality, but we do not want to kill our trade opportunities. That now forces us to disassemble this whole issue.

How about just leaving the snake alone, knowing that it always was and always will be a snake, and letting everyone live in peace?


A Glimpse Inside a Gay Bar in Anti-Gay Uganda

UgandaThere is a bar in Uganda that opens its doors to the country’s oppressed LGBT community for a few scant hours late into the early hours of Sunday evening. Located in Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city, the bar usually caters to a heterosexual clientele in the city’s business district. A lengthy profile published in Business Insider reveals that Kampala’s underground queer population is willing to risk criminal charges if it means being able to have some semblance of a nightlife.

"Can you imagine, that in a very sociable country like Uganda, where bars are open Monday-to-Monday, we have only six hours in a week to be ourselves?" one of the patrons pondered to Agence France Presse. "The moment you walk out it's like you don't know each other, you've not been having fun."

Despite the bar being somewhat lowkey, it is understood that the Kampala police are at least somewhat aware of the queer gatherings. The bar was closed down entirely for two months following the passing of Uganda’s law criminalizing homosexuality and the promotion of gay lifestyles. Recently, the bill was nullified on by a Parliamentary technicality, but Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has expressed his openness and interest in considering a new version of the same legislation.


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