Rwanda is planning to enact homophobic legislation in line with that currently being debated in Uganda, UK gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) announced this week.

A debate is being held on a draft revision of the Rwandan penal code that will, for the first time, make homosexuality a crime. A vote on this draft code will occur before the end of this week. PTT said the proposed Article 217 of the draft Penal Code Act will criminalise ‘any person who practises, encourages or sensitises people of the same sex, to sexual relations or any sexual practice’. It will impose prison sentences of between five and 10 years for those convicted of homosexual acts. If the Chamber of Deputies approves, the draft code will likely go before the Rwandan Senate in
early 2010.

“It is extremely worrying to learn that Uganda’s neighbour seems to have caught the homophobic bug, no doubt spurred on by malign religious influences. It is hardly surprising that a large majority of Rwandans are Roman Catholic and that the Catholic Church has been one of the most dominating institutions in Rwanda for many decades,” PTT secretary George Broadhead said.

The PTT has previously sent a letter of protest about the Ugandan legislation to that country’s High Commissioner in the UK, Joan Rwabyomere. It has now protested to the Rwandan ambassador to the UK, Claver Gatete.

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