There's a whole slew of LGBT-related news out of Africa, and I'm sorry to say, it's not good. Gay men have been physically attacked in Uganda and South Africa, and are about to be legislatively attacked in Tanzania.
Let's break it down.
A member of parliament in the west-central African nation of Tanzania revealed last week that he intends to draft and submit an anti-homosexuality bill. Ezekiel Wenje's proposal would toughen existing legal penalties against consensual same-sex sexual activity and crack down on those who (he says) recruit people into homosexuality.
The East African reports:
Mr Wenje said homosexuality is on the rise in Tanzania because the existing legislation does not provide a sufficient deterrent.
Under the current law, convicted suspects face custodial sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment. According to Section 154 of the Act, any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature is liable to imprisonment for life.
But Wenje said the law does not cover those who induce others to become gays or those who promote the behaviour.
He said there are many gays in Dar es Salaam who operate in the open, go to bars and social places, and that more young people are choosing the lifestyle.
Mr Wenje is optimistic that his Bill will receive support from his colleagues and eventually get passed into law despite a predictable donor stance on the issue.
Tanzania's colonial-era sodomy laws, although rarely enforced, explicitly forbid sex between men (sex between women is not mentioned) and punish the "offense" with a prison term of twenty years to life.
Asked if he's worried that expanding the persecution of LGBT Tanzanians would result in aid cuts, as is happening in neighboring Uganda, Wenje was defiant: "We should not care about aid, we should care about our values and the future of the country."
The latest from South Africa and Uganda is after the jump.
In another horrifying hate crime, a 20-year-old gay man was allegedly gang-raped by a group of five men, who then tried to kill him by setting fire to the bed where the assault took place.
Via International Business Times:
A neighbor, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told IOL News that she woke up on Sunday morning [March 30] and saw flames coming from the house next door.
"Members of the community came with buckets of water and as we approached the second floor of the house, where the flames were coming from, a young man came running down the stairs.
"He wanted to run away but we calmed him," the woman said. "He said that five men had raped him because he was a homosexual. They then tried to kill him by setting fire to a mattress on which he had been assaulted, apparently on which they raped him. He managed to escape. Fortunately, only his shoes got burned," the woman continued.
Authorities are investigating, but so far no arrests have been made.
This is the country's latest high-profile anti-gay attack in less than a month: in mid-March, a 21-year-old gay man was brutally tortured, beaten, and set on fire in front of a group of teenagers, who watched and then left him to die.
Two Ugandan men, ages 18 and 22, have been tortured and jailed for allegedly having gay sex. The men were apparently "caught red-handed" in the act of having sex and "admitted to having been involved in acts of homosexuality." Police claim 18-year-old Anthony Oluku consensually penetrated 22-year-old Maurice Okello, who has a wife and a three-year-old child.
Police commander Najibu Waiswa says the two had been having sexual relations for some time: "The doctor proved beyond doubt that they have been practicing it for long because even they had scars." According to Gay Star News, this alleged "proof" of homosexuality is obtained in an incredibly degrading way that many view as torture:
According to unconfirmed reports, Uganda doctors have begun engaging in 'anal probe' tests often carried out in the Middle East and North Africa to 'catch' homosexuals.
These 'tests' involve examining someone's anus to see if they had been penetrated, check for traces of sperm and taking a picture to 'study' the shape of the hole. If it is wider, the more 'likely' the person has engaged in gay sex, according to the widely discredited test.
'Forensic anal examinations of men suspected of homosexual contact, conducted in detention, constitute degrading and humiliating treatment,' said Rasha Moumneh, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Under Uganda's new Anti-Homosexuality Act, the men face a possible lifetime prison sentence.
Watch NTV Uganda's brief video report on the arrests:
Many of you have asked what can be done about the seemingly constant barrage of horror stories coming out of countries like Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, etc. To tell you the truth, other than pressuring our politicians to more forcefully respond to governments enacting anti-LGBT laws, supporting organizations that help move LGBT people out of harm's way and find refuge in the United States, and pressuring the American government to adopt more humane policies toward refugees and asylum-seekers, I'm not entirely sure.
If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments section.
h/t: Daniel Villarreal.