NOBEL Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has joined several African authors in criticising the growing homophobia on their continent in light of nations like Uganda and Nigeria passing homophobic laws.

Tutu, the former Cape Town archbishop in South Africa, condemned Uganda’s anti-gay law, which was signed by President Yoweri Museveni yesterday despite reports he blocked the laws last month.

According to reports, Tutu compared the law – which could see gay people facing lifetime prison sentences – to Nazism and his country’s infamous apartheid.

In a statement, Tutu said: “In South Africa, apartheid police used to rush into bedrooms where whites were suspected of making love to blacks. It was demeaning to those whose ‘crime’ was to love each other, it was demeaning to the policemen and it was a blot on our entire society.”

“My plea to President Museveni is to use his country’s debate around the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a catalyst to further strengthen the culture of human rights and justice in Uganda.”

Last year, Tutu said that he would refuse to “worship a God who is homophobic”.

Meanwhile, the award-winning writer of Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, wrote an essay last week following Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to sign into law tough new anti-gay measures in January.

The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act bans gay and lesbian marriages, public displays of same-sex relationships, outlaws organisations supporting LGBTI rights, and enforces various jail terms for as long as 14 years for anyone breaking the laws.

“It shows a failure of our democracy, because the mark of a true democracy is not in the rule of its majority but in the protection of its minority – otherwise mob justice would be considered democratic,” Adichie wrote.

“The law is also unconstitutional, ambiguous, and a strange priority in a country with so many real problems. Above all else, however, it is unjust.”

Adichie’s condemnation came soon after Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, who publicly outed himself as gay in response to the Nigerian laws.

Revealing his sexuality in a short story titled I am a Homosexual, Mum, Wainaina said the newly-passed Nigerian laws and others like it shamed all Africans.

The stance by some of the continent’s leading intellectuals also comes in light of some Kenyan MPs wanting to emulate Uganda or Nigeria and Gambian President Yahya Jammeh last week declaring: “We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.”

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch has urged US President Barack Obama to recall the country’s ambassador to Uganda and reduce aid funding.




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