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Uganda's anti-gay law: how restricted are LGBTQ rights in Africa?

Quin Karala, 29, a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTQ) community and a single mother of one poses for a picture with rainbow colours at the offices of Rella Women's Empowerment Program, for LGBTQ rights advocacy, after a Reuters interview in Kulambiro suburb of Kampala, Uganda April 4, 2023. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa/File Photo

Uganda has enacted one of the world's toughest anti-LGBTQ laws in a continent where only 22 of 54 nations allow homosexuality.

Here are facts about LGBTQ rights in Africa:

* The maximum penalty is death in Mauritania, Somalia, and Nigeria in states where sharia law is applied.

* Life imprisonment is the maximum penalty for same-sex relations in Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Jail terms of up to 14 years are possible in Gambia, Kenya and Malawi.

* The High Court of Kenya in 2019 upheld a law criminalising consensual same-sex sexual activity, saying it was "an effective method to contain the country's HIV epidemic".

* In 2017, Chad criminalised same-sex acts in what the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) called "a worrying example of legal regression in the region".

* A draft bill to toughen already severe laws against same-sex relations in Senegal was thrown out in January last year before being put to a vote because existing legislation was deemed sufficiently clear and the resultant penalties severe enough.

* Although homosexuality is not a crime in Egypt, discrimination against the LGBTQ community is rife. Gay men are frequently arrested and typically charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.

* Ivory Coast does not criminalise gay sex but there have been recorded cases of detention and prosecution.

* Tanzania has banned provision of condoms and lubricants to LGBTQ health clinics and, since 2018, increased the use of forced anal examinations.

* Sodomy convictions in Tunisia have reportedly been on the rise.

* Broad protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation exists in three countries: Angola, Mauritius and South Africa. Employment protection exists in the same three countries plus Botswana, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Seychelles.

* South Africa is the only African country where gay marriage is legal. In 2018, the cabinet approved a bill criminalising hate crimes and hate speech. However, South Africa has high rates of homophobic crime.

* Botswana decriminalised homosexuality in 2019 and Gabon in 2020.

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