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Ugandan LGBTQ activist plans to return home, despite fear of arrest

FILE - African LGBTQ activist   -  
Copyright © africanews
Rebecca Vassie/AP

South Africa

A Ugandan LGBT activist have said they plan to return to their home country next week even though they fear they could be arrested.

DeLovie Kwagala, who is non-binary and prefers to use the pronoun 'they,' has been living in Johannesburg in South Africa since 2021 but their visa is about to expire.

Anyone who "knowingly promotes homosexuality" faces up to 20 years in jail under a new law passed by the Ugandan parliament earlier this month.

The bill is awaiting approval by President Yoweri Museveni.

It's an amended version of a previous draft that triggered an outcry from Western governments and rights groups.

"It feels like they know what they do when they discuss the bill and what it does, because it feels like they are telling society indirectly to act on the fact that we are the immoralities of the community and so, I just was really tired of it," Kwagala said from his home in South Africa.

Police threatened to detain the activist last year, which forced Kwagala to abandon returning home.

But despite the renewed danger, Kwagala said they don't want to apply for asylum in South Africa, as they don't want to become a refugee.

Under the new bill "engaging in acts of homosexuality" would be an offence punishable with life imprisonment and repeat offenders could be sentenced to death for "aggravated homosexuality".

Uganda has not resorted to capital punishment for many years.

An earlier version of the law criminalised identifying as gay but was sent back to parliament by Museveni, who can again choose to use his veto.

Homosexuality was criminalised in Uganda under colonial laws, but there has never been a conviction for consensual same-sex activity since independence from Britain in 1962.

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