Kenya anti-gay activists, lawmakers eye Uganda-like law

Kangata, a lawyer by profession, is one of several lawmakers who have launched a campaign to draft a bill to be tabled in parliament outlawing gay and lesbian practice.

Kangata, a lawyer by profession, is one of several lawmakers who have launched a campaign to draft a bill to be tabled in parliament outlawing gay and lesbian practice.

By William Oloo

NAIROBI - An anti-gay lobby in Kenya has hailed a law signed Monday by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni criminalizing any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex, saying they would seek a similar law for their country.

"We welcome the Ugandan law, which should provide us with a reference point and experience about dealing with the matter," lawmaker Irungu Kangata told Anadolu Agency.

Kangata, a lawyer by profession, is one of several lawmakers who have launched a campaign to draft a bill to be tabled in parliament outlawing gay and lesbian practices and providing for stiff penalties for violators.

"We are serious with the campaign for anti-gay laws and we are drafting a bill," he said.

A local men's rights lobby, Maendeleo Ya Wanaume ("Advancement for Men" in the Kiswahili language), on Monday launched an "anti-gay day," declaring they would mark March 24 every year as an annual occasion to campaign against homosexuality.

"We will not relent in our campaign against the attempt by the gays and lesbians to spread their evil practice," Nderitu Njoka, lobby chairperson, told Anadolu Agency.

"The practice is unacceptable within the context of African culture," he said.

The anti-homosexuality law comes despite a growing homosexual community in Kenya that has in the recent past come out very strongly. Several homosexuals even staged a recent demonstration at the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi to protest against the anti-gay bill.

Museveni on Monday signed the controversial anti-gay bill into law, which slaps harsh penalties on homosexuals. First offenders will serve a jail term of up to 14 years if convicted and repeat offenders will be jailed for life.

The law will also penalize any Ugandan who fails to report those involved in homosexuality.

Museveni recently told members of his ruling National Resistance Movement that homosexuality represented a threat to the wider public.

The assertion came after 14 medical experts presented him with a report describing homosexuality as a social, rather than hereditary, phenomenon.

On December 20, Uganda's parliament approved the bill, which mandates prison terms for anyone found to have committed homosexual acts.

The bill was first tabled in 2009 by David Bahati, MP for Uganda's Ndorwa West constituency.

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