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Justice Edwin Cameron meets and greets well-wishers at the launch of his book Justice this week.Photo: Luca Kotton.

by Luca Kotton and Roxanne Joseph

Being gay or even supporting gay rights is now illegal  in Uganda and can lead to life imprisonment.

Less than a week ago, President Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-homosexuality bill into law and since then, the onslaught from both local and international communities alike has been significant.

The act “prohibits any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; prohibits the promotion or recognition of such relations and to provide for other related matters.”

First drafted in 2009, the bill originally proposed the death penalty, but was later amended to life imprisonment because of international pressure.

Having sex with someone of the same gender, marrying someone of the same gender and touching someone of the same gender with “intent” to engage in a sexual act will land you in prison for the rest of your life. Officiating a same-gender marriage, aiding or counselling an LGBTI individual, offering premises or supplies to an LGBTI individual and directing a company or NGO that supports LGBTI rights leads to prison time of five to seven years.

Despite the watered down version of the bill coming into law, several countries – including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the US and the UK – have pulled financial aid from Uganda, one of the world’s poorest nations (as classified by the World Bank).

South Africa’s Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said “oppressors like (Ugandan President Yoweri) Museveni should not be allowed to flourish.”

Speaking at the launch of Justice Edwin Cameron’s book  Justice, on Thursday night, Moseneke added his voice to the condemnation of Uganda’s recently signed Bill. Cameron is one of South Africa’s most prominent gay rights activists and a colleague of Moseneke at the Constitutional Court.  [Read an extract from Cameron’s newest book here.]

No official condemnation of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act has yet been issued by the South African government.