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Activist: "Uganda
is the new Zimbabwe"

Activist: "Uganda
is the new Zimbabwe"

Thirty protesters picketed the Ugandan High Commission in London on Friday in protest of the persecution of gay and lesbian Ugandans. They were from the National Union of Students LGBT campaign and from the gay rights group OutRage! Recently, Uganda publicly outed 58 alleged lesbians and gay men, sparking an outcry of criticism from gay groups. A letter was presented to the Ugandan high commissioner urging respect for the human rights of LGBT Ugandans. "Uganda is the new Zimbabwe," said Peter Tatchell of OutRage! "President Yoweri Museveni is the Robert Mugabe of Uganda, a homophobic tyrant who tramples on democracy and human rights. Uganda's antigay laws were imposed by the British colonialists who occupied the country, stole its wealth, and abused its people." The central African country outlaws male homosexuality under laws originally imposed by the British colonizers in the 19th century.Offenders face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Lesbians and gay men are subjected to vigilante violence by homophobic mobs, especially in rural areas where most of the population live, activists said. Civil rights groups, including Amnesty International, have been critical of the Ugandan government for allowing the abuses to go on. The latest outrage is an outing campaign by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Red Pepper, which is reportedly owned by Museveni's half-brother. Activists say Museveni has urged police to hunt down and arrest gay men and lesbians. Red Pepper has outed 58 alleged lesbians and gays in the last two months and has urged readers to send more names so they too can be outed. The paper also published a list of underground gay venues, exposing them to the risk of homophobic attack. Recently Red Pepper carried an article headlined "Jinja Cops Hunt for Gays," reporting a police manhunt to arrest gays and lesbians in the city of Jinga. Said the main organizer of the protest, Claire Anderson of the National Union of Students' LGBT campaign: "We call on individuals and groups, LGBT or otherwise, to protest against the intimidation, arrest, and torture of LGBT people in Uganda." (Gay.com/U.K.)

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