In many African countries, it is illegal to be gay. 25 out of 38 African nations have passed laws that give varying degrees of prison sentences to people caught practicing homosexual acts. In Nigeria, a 14-year jail term is prescribed for convicted offenders under the Same Sex Marriage (prohibition) bill which was passed into law in 2011.
These laws have received mixed reactions from Africans across the continent. While some have lauded it in countries where they have been passed, others have said there are more important things to focus on and an individual’s sexuality should not be subject to scrutiny and punishment.
At the recent Pan African Parliament in Johannesburg on 9th October, 2012, the topic of imprisonment of homosexuals in Africa was again raised.
A Ugandan lawmaker, Atim Ogwal Cecilia Barbara called for the life imprisonment of all African gay people.
SABC reports her comments at the Parliament: “Africa must stand up. We must pass a resolution condemning homosexuality because it is not an African culture. We are not allowed to practice polygamy in other countries, why should we be forced to do what is not natural?”
Homosexuality which is already illegal under Uganda’s penal code, is highly stigmatized in Uganda. The country has one of the strictest Anti-Homosexuality Bill often called the “Kill the Gays bill”. It divides homosexual behavior into two categories: “aggravated homosexuality”, in which an offender would receive the death penalty, or “the offense of homosexuality” in which an offender would receive life imprisonment.
Although she failed to convince other lawmakers and her proposal was rejected, she once again brought to the fore, Africa’s standpoint against homosexuality.