Saturday, 19 April 2014

Malta Today: Ugandan men face life imprisonment over homosexuality charges

Two Ugandan men face life imprisonment if found guilty of homosexuality, the first case since controversial anti-gay law was introduced in February.

17 April 2014, 7:33pm by a Staff Reporter

Enacted in February, the controversial anti-gay law has drawn widespread criticism by Western donors, only to be rebuffed by Uganda president Yoweri Museveni.

Two Ugandan men will go on trial next month accused of homosexuality, the first people to be charged since the introduction of a controversial new anti-gay law.

In February, Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-gay law. It punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail and allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of "aggravated homosexuality".

Prosecutors said that they had sufficient evidence against 24-year-old Kim Mukisa and 19-year-old Jackson Mukasa, who denied the charges when they first appeared in court earlier this year.

They have been held in Luziro prison in Kampala since December.

Mukisa was charged with "having sexual knowledge of a person against the order of nature" and Mukasa, with permitting a person to have sexual knowledge of him against the order of nature.

The two men have been charged under the 1950 Penal Code Act, which also prescribes life imprisonment if a person is found guilty of homosexual acts.

They are the first Ugandans to face trial on homosexuality charges, with an earlier case collapsing before it reached court and the majority of those arrested paying stiff fines to avoid prison.

Since the law was passed several donors have cut aid to Uganda, but Ugandan president Museveni has nevertheless weathered the controversy and vehement criticism and warned Western nations against interfering.

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