Uganda to deport British man accused of being gay

 In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, file photo, Briton Bernard Randall, 65, attends a trial hearing in Entebbe, Uganda. A Ugandan court on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, ordered the deportation of Randall who faced criminal charges following publication of images of him having sex with another man. In Uganda, homosexuality is illegal and lawmakers recently passed a draconian new bill that prescribes life imprisonment for "aggravated" homosexual acts.  AP Photo/Rebecca Vassie, File

KAMPALA, Uganda - A Ugandan court on Wednesday ordered the deportation of a British man facing criminal charges related to images of him having sex with another man.

As Uganda and other countries in Africa begin enforcing laws against homosexuals, a kind of anti-gay fervor is taking hold across the continent. It is illegal to have gay sex in most African countries. Gays in many parts of the continent face severe harassment, physical threats, judicial punishment, and sometimes worse.

In Nigeria on Wednesday, thousands of protesters demanded the executions of 11 men arrested for belonging to gay organizations.

Demonstrators threw stones into the Shariah court in the north Nigerian city of Bauchi until security officials fired into the air. The judge closed the court abruptly so the accused men could be safely returned to prison.

They were detained in a frenzy of arrests of alleged gays apparently precipitated by this month's passage of a new bill that further criminalizes homosexuality. The Same Sex Prohibition Act makes it illegal to even hold a gay meeting - a law that human rights activists say will endanger efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

Meanwhile in Uganda, a lawyer for Bernard Randall said prosecutors were using the excuse of an expired visa to seek Randall's deportation after failing to find evidence against him in the criminal case. Lawyer Francis Onyango said his client traveled to Uganda on a tourist visa that expired after his passport was stolen.

Jane Kajuga, a spokeswoman for Uganda's directorate of prosecutions, said prosecutors dropped the case but did not explain why.

Randall, 65, likely will be flown out of the country on Thursday after a magistrate ordered his immediate deportation, police commander Edgar Nyabongo told The Associated Press.

The Briton was charged last year with trafficking in obscene material. His laptop computer was stolen from his home and photos on the computer showing him have sex with another man were sent to a Ugandan newspaper that published them. That led to the charges.

Randall will be the second foreigner deported from the East African country over alleged homosexual offenses. Last year the British producer of a gay-themed play was deported after being jailed for staging the play without official authorization. Such authorization is not usually required to stage a play.

Homosexuality is criminalized in Uganda, where lawmakers last month passed a new bill that prescribes life imprisonment for "aggravated" homosexual acts. The bill, which appears to have wide support among Ugandans, has been opposed by the president, who says it is too harsh.

Rights groups have condemned the bill, saying it is draconian.

 

kenya_AP349979204108.jpg
Prize-winning Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina talks to a cameraman as he walks down a street in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Wainaina, one of Africa's leading literary figures, spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday to explain his decision to publicly declare his homosexuality in an online essay last weekend, in light of a wave of new legislation further criminalizing homosexuality in Nigeria and Uganda.
AP Photo/Ben Curtis
 In Kenya, African literary light Binyavanga Wainaina said Wednesday he's known he was gay since he was 5 though he did not have a homosexual encounter until he was 39.

To celebrate his 43rd birthday, the prize-winning Kenyan has published an online essay telling the world that he is gay. His story contributes to an increasingly fierce debate about gays in Africa and is a protest against laws that seek to further criminalize homosexuality.

Kenya has a law banning sodomy.

Wainaina's essay, painful to read, this week announced what he wishes he had told his mother before she died 14 years ago: "I am a homosexual, mum."

In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, he said he came out to help preserve his dignity.

"I came out because ... people have dignity," he said. "All people have dignity. There's nobody who was born without a soul and a spirit. There is nobody who is a beast or an animal, right?

"Every one, we, we homosexuals, are people and we need our oxygen to breathe."

Wainaina, whose hair is dyed in rainbow colors, lashed out at recently passed laws against homosexuality in Nigeria and Uganda. He also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces criticism over Russia's stance on gays and the upcoming Winter Olympics.

"I can't sleep at night because there are people who I may know or who I don't even know ... who may be dying or being beaten or being tortured right now in a Nigerian cell or three weeks ago in a Ugandan one," he said.

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