Anti-gay attacks soaring in Africa

Dec. 11, 2010 at 2:25 PM
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KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Gay people across Africa are facing an unprecedented wave of persecution powered by fundamentalist religion, human-rights activists say.

"It has never been harder for gays and lesbians on the continent," Monica Mbaru, Africa coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Cape Town, South Africa, told The Washington Post.

Fearing for their lives, many activists are in hiding or have fled their homelands.

In Uganda, a pending bill would execute repeat "offenders" in same-sex relations and imprison others for life. People who fail to report a homosexual, even parents and teachers, would face three years in jail, and those who "promote" homosexuality five to seven years.

Newspapers have been exposing gays by name, listing their addresses and saying "Hang them." A day after one article, Ugandan activist Sheila Hope Meugisha said, she was besieged in her home for days.

Activists say attacks in Uganda rose last year after three American evangelical preachers visited. They taught how to "cure" homosexuality and accused gays of destroying African culture.

American gay activists have sent money to communities, and Western governments, including major aid donors, have assailed the bill and denounced the treatment of gays.

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