Ugandan man faces death penalty for 'aggravated homosexuality'

Activists hold placards during their picket against Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill earlier this year. Credit: AP

A man in Uganda is facing the death penalty after being charged with aggravated homosexuality.

It is the first use of a controversial anti-gay law that was enacted in May.

The 20-year-old was charged on 18 August with having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 41-year-old man, according to the charging document issued by police in the Soroti Central Division.

Aggravated homosexuality is defined as cases of same-sex sexual relations involving a minor and other categories of vulnerable people, or when the perpetrator is infected with HIV.

The charging document does not clarify the aggravating factor in the case. It says the offense took place at a sports stadium in Soroti, but provides no other details.

The new anti-gay legislation does not criminalise those who identify as LGBTQ+ but still prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”.

A suspect convicted of “attempted aggravated homosexuality” can be jailed for up to 14 years, according to the legislation.

The World Bank earlier this month announced a decision not to consider new loans to Uganda because of the law, drawing an angry response from President Yoweri Museveni.

A group of UN experts described the law as “an egregious violation of human rights,” while Amnesty International called it “draconian and overly broad.”

Homosexuality is criminalised in more than 30 of Africa’s 54 countries.

The charges against the man in Uganda come as police in Nigeria claim they have detained at least 67 people celebrating a gay wedding.

The “gay suspects” were arrested in southern Delta state's Ekpan town in the early hours of Monday at an event where two of them were married, state police spokesman Bright Edafe told reporters.

He said that homosexuality “will never be tolerated” in Nigeria.

Arrests of gay people are common in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, where gay people can face up to 14 years in prison under the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, while accomplices face 10 years in prison.

Enacted in 2013, the law has been condemned locally and internationally though it is also supported by many in the country.

Amnesty International's Nigeria office condemned the arrests and called for “an immediate end to this witch-hunt.”

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