Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill was approved by a parliamentary committee Nov. 23 and is moving toward a vote by the full Parliament.
The Committee of Jurisdiction OK’d the legislation, which would mandate harsh punishments for homosexual acts and pro-gay activism, and it is likely to come to the floor of Parliament before the body adjourns Dec. 14. A clause that would have allowed for the death penalty in certain cases, such as for multiple offenses or sex with an HIV-positive person, was reportedly replaced by a sentence of life in prison.
Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said it’s too early to tell if the death-penalty mandate will really be absent from the legislation.
“I heard before that they took the death-penalty provision out, and it turns out that wasn’t in fact the case — or that the way they did it, the wording was still ambiguous,” Bromely said. “My guess is — if they really bring this up for a vote, which it looks like they’re going to — given the international condemnation, they probably will take out the death penalty, but I just think it’s a little early to say definitively that they have taken it out until we see what they’re going to vote on.”
Homosexuality is already criminalized in Uganda, but this legislation would make matters much worse in the nation, activists say.
Kenya: Gay political candidate warned of ‘revolt’ if elected
A Kenyan anti-poverty campaigner has become the country’s first openly gay man to run for political office.
However, David Kuria Mbote faces a difficult path as he tries to dispel taboos in the largely conservative Christian nation in a race for a senate seat.
If elected to the senate, the 40-year-old would become Africa’s first openly gay black man to hold national office, according to the Kaleidoscope Trust, a global LGBT-rights group based in London.
Kenyan Trade Minister Moses Wetangula has warned there would be a “revolt” if voters elected Mbote, telling the BBC that homosexuality “simply doesn’t fly” in Kenya.
He went on to say that gay people should not “have an opportunity or privilege to lead a country that is founded on religious morality.”
In May of this year, Kenya’s National Human Rights Commission published a report calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality and prostitution in the east African state.
Homosexual offenses in Kenya currently carry penalties of between five and 14 years’ imprisonment.
Indian parade demands greater tolerance
Hundreds of gay-rights supporters are marching through New Delhi to demand that they be allowed to lead lives of dignity in India’s deeply conservative society.
Dozens of activists on Nov. 25 carried a nearly 50-foot-long rainbow-colored banner and waved placards demanding that the government extend the scope of antidiscrimination laws to schools and offices.
Activists said that three years after the Delhi High Court made changes in India’s colonial-era law that made gay sex a crime, homosexuals are still not socially accepted in India.
In some big cities, homosexuality is slowly gaining acceptance and a few high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues.
Still, many marchers covered their faces with scarves or wore masks because they had not told their friends and families about their sexuality.
Thousands rally for marriage equality in Sydney
A thousand people turned up to rally for equal marriage rights on Nov. 25 in Sydney, in a bid to urge the government to legalize same-sex marriage.
Speakers at the rally included New South Wales Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and Australian Marriage Equality national convener Rodney Croome.
Co-Convenor of Community Action Against Homophobia Bryn Hutchinson said, “This was the first marriage-equality rally since the federal government failed to pass legislation that would have given us full citizenship. It was great to see such a turnout of supporters and members of the community.
“It sends a strong message that we will not be giving up or going away just because Parliament refused to give us the equal rights we are entitled to. We already know politicians are trailing behind the rest of the Australian public on this issue, with 65 percent of Australians supporting equality. It is simply a matter of time before we have equal marriage in Australia.”
Recently, marriage-equality advocates in Australia welcomed a new draft a national antidiscrimination law that aims to protect gay Australians from unfair treatment in employment and services.
France to open world’s first gay mosque
According to the Jerusalem Post, a gay French-Algerian man, Muhammad Ludovic Lütfi Zahed, is planning to open the first gay mosque in France at the end of November. The mosque will not have the gender exclusions that other mosques do.
“In normal mosques, women have to sit in the back seats and wear a headscarf and gay men are afraid of both verbal and physical aggression,” Zahed said. “After performing the Hajj, I realized that a mosque for gays was a must for gay Muslims who want to perform their prayers.”
The new mosque, says Zahed, will not segregate women, even during prayers.
Zahed’s marriage to Qiyam al-Din earlier this year was reportedly approved by an imam and made national headlines after they married (legally) in South Africa, but France refused to acknowledge it.
— compiled by Larry Nichols