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Rwanda Debates Criminalizing Homosexuality


The lower house of the Rwandan parliament is scheduled Wednesday to hold its final debate on legislation that would make any individual who engages in or promotes gay sex a criminal.

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the proposal, Article 217 of the draft Penal Code Act, would criminalize "any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice."

Punishment for the violation would include imprisonment for five to 10 years, along with a fine for 200,000 to 1 million Rwandan francs (approximately $350 to $1,750, in a country where the average annual income is equivalent to $370), reports Box Turtle Bulletin. The penalties are not as harsh as proposed in Uganda, where legislation that could sentence some people to death for gay sexual activity.

The chamber of deputies is expected to vote on the revision to the penal code before the end of the week.

If approved by the nation's lower house, the legislation could go before the Rwandan senate as soon as early 2010.

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