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2 Ugandans face trial on gay-sex charges

Two Ugandans accused of homosexual activity are scheduled to face trial in May.  They have been held in Luzira Prison since their arrest in January.

Luzira Prison (Photo courtesy of Monitor.ug)

Luzira Prison (Photo courtesy of Monitor.ug)

Kim Mukisa, 24, a businessman, and Jackson Mukasa,  19, pleaded not guilty Feb. 6 in a court in Kampala, where they were accused of “living as husband and wife,” the Monitor of Uganda reported.

They were sent to prison because they did not have the sureties needed to apply for release on bail, the Monitor reported.

The arrest and their trial are on charges of sexual activity “against the order of nature” under Uganda’s amended Penal Code Act of 1950.  The crime is punishable by up to a life sentence, but until the passage in December of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which prohibits “promoting homosexuality,” the former law was rarely enforced. Reportedly, the trial of Mukisa and Mukasa would be the first such proceeding under that law.

The Guardian reported that on April 16 prosecutors said they had sufficient evidence against Mukisa and Mukasa to take them to trial.

They are expected to defend themselves during the trial, which is scheduled to start on  May 7, The Guardian said.

President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law on Feb. 24. It provides for imprisonment for five to seven years for anyone convicted of “promoting homosexuality” or who  “in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.”

Among other provisions, it also calls for:

  • Forced medical examinations for anyone accused of being HIV-positive and of committing homosexual acts, which is termed “aggravated homosexuality,” also punishable by life imprisonment.
  • Life imprisonment for same-sex marriage.
  • Imprisonment for seven years for the “director or proprietor or promoter” of a company or association that is convicted of “promoting homosexuality.”
  • Five to seven years in prison for anyone who “offers premises and other related fixed or movable assets for purposes of homosexuality or promoting homosexuality,” including landlords who rent to LGBT rights groups.

[This article was revised April 23, 2014, to correct the date of the men’s arrest, which was in January rather than in December. The headline was also changed to “2 Ugandans face trial on gay-sex charges” from “2 Ugandan men face trial on gay-sex charges.”

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