Homophobia 'on the rise in Africa'
25 June 2013, 10:05
Johannesburg - Homophobia in sub-Saharan Africa has reached
"dangerous levels" with more countries passing laws criminalising
same-sex relations, a report released on Tuesday by Amnesty International
The rights group said homophobic attitudes and attacks on
gays were in some cases "fuelled by key politicians and religious leaders
who should be using their position to fight discrimination and promote equality".
"In some African countries political leaders target
sexual orientation issues to distract attention from their overall human rights
According to the report, Africa's strict penal codes were
initially imposed by colonial rulers, based on Christian moral values.
"African people were encouraged by the colonising
power... to view dislike and fear of those expressing normative sexual
orientation as a sign of progress and civilisation."
Homosexuality is illegal in 38 countries in the region, with
South Africa the only country that recognises gay rights and allows same-sex
However, even protection by the country's liberal laws has
not stopped harassment.
Black lesbians in Africa's largest economy are commonly
targeted for attacks known as "corrective rape" by men trying to
"cure" their homosexuality.
Meanwhile in Zambia two men Philip Mubiana, 21, and James
Mwape, 20, are currently standing trial for charges of sodomy, a crime that
carries a 14-year sentence.
"Making Love a Crime"
In 2010 Malawi drew worldwide condemnation for the jailing
of a gay couple for 14-years with hard labour for sodomy. During the course of
the trial, Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika called homosexuality
"evil and very bad before the eyes of God".
Mutharika later bowed to international pressure and pardoned
The report titled: "Making Love a Crime," says in
the last five years South Sudan and Burundi have introduced new laws
criminalising same-sex relations, while Uganda, Liberia and Nigeria are pushing
bills that would toughen existing penalties.
"These laws must be repealed and the human
rights of all Africans upheld," said Widney Brown, Amnesty International's
director of Law and Policy.
Between June and November 2012, at least seven people in the
region, five of them lesbians, were murdered in hate-motivated crimes, it said.
Island nations like Cape Verde, Seychelles and Mauritius
were applauded for "positive developments" in working towards
Uganda was cited as one of the leading states that have
sought to toughen laws criminalising homosexuality, including introducing a
bill that seeks to impose the death penalty for 'aggravated' homosexuality.
Under the bill, those who fail to report violations within
24 hours could face prosecution.