Ban on homosexuality in Uganda “unenforceable”

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Ugandan laws prohibiting homosexual activity have resulted in no arrests of couples despite people being open about their sexuality and the fact that there are more than 160 members of leading gay organisations.

According to the, Oscar Kihika, the president of the Uganda Law Society said: “You can’t just arrest someone for saying they are gay.

“That’s like arresting someone just because he says he stole something, with no proof.

“You have to have a witness, and you would have to identify the stolen item before you could press charges.”

Homosexuality in Uganda is punishable with life imprisonment.

Mr Kihika says the law is ineffective and will continue to be until it is amended.

“Much of the Penal Code Act is antiquated, some of it should be reviewed, but much of it is still very useful. It will be a complicated law to revise.”

A police spokesperson, Asan Kasingye said “if it is a private act between two consenting adults, it is not like a case of defilement” and therefore arrests cannot easily be made.

Even a couple seen kissing in public could not be arrested. Mr Kihika said:

“Kissing in public would give circumstantial evidence, but not direct evidence.

“If police were there, I suppose they could take the person in for questioning but you cannot arrest someone without proof of penetration.”

Cases can only be easily pursued if a medical examination is conducted or if a minor has been involved.

Additionally lesbian activity is virtually impossible to prove.

However, despite the lack of prosecutions there is still deep antagonism towards gay and lesbian people in the country.

In 2004 Uganda became the first country in the world to introduce a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The Church of Uganda recently followed the Church of Nigeria in severing its ties with the Episcopal Church in America over its more liberal stance towards the appointment of gay clergy.

Gay groups in Uganda last year spoke out against a local tabloid which printed a list of alleged homosexuals in the country.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) called for Ugandan citizens to stand up for human rights and protect minorities, a statement said: “Our brothers whose names were published in the Red Pepper tabloid are currently under-going discomforts and are living under unbelievable fear of being arrested, ostracised by their families or sacked from their jobs.”