CAPE TOWN - Several African countries continue to persecute people in the LGBT community. The five most dangerous countries to be gay in Africa are Uganda, Nigeria, Egypt, Tanzania and Sudan.
Uganda’s government outlaws male and female homosexual activity, which can be punished with heavy fines and prison sentences.
Article 145 of the Penal Code Act of 1950 states that “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is a criminal offence.
This, while vague, has been applied to homosexual acts in the past and can result in life in prison, according to Human Rights Watch, making Uganda’s anti-gay laws some of the harshest in the world.
Many challenges exist for the Nigerian LGBT community due to societal and legal issues. The northern half of the country lives under sharia (Islamic law), which heavily emphasises homosexuality as taboo and outlaws it. In many states, sodomy is punishable by death or life in prison, and there is a similar punishment for cross-dressing.
Section 214 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, which is applicable for all states of the nation, prohibits sexual relations between men punishable by imprisonment for up to 14 years, as stated in Human Dignity Trust’s data, an organisation committed to global advocacy for members of the LGBT community.
In Egypt, homosexuality is both criminalised and highly discouraged in society. In a poll done by the Pew Research Center in 2013, it was revealed that 95% of Egyptians believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.
Egypt does not explicitly outlaw homosexuality, but instead uses vague terms such as “incitement to indecency” and “scandalous acts”, according to Human Dignity Trust. These offences can lead to up to a year’s imprisonment.
Tanzanian laws also outlaw homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Section 138A of the Penal Code of 1945 states that any person who commits an act of “gross indecency” is subject to more than 30 years in prison, as reported by Human Rights Watch.
In Sudan, people in the LGBT community are criminalised under the Penal Code of 1991, which states that sodomy can be punished with up to five years in prison for the first offence, seven years for the second offence, and life in prison for the third offence.
As recently as 2017, a man was arrested at a social event and publicly beaten for wearing female clothing and make-up and was fined heavily, according to Human Dignity Trust.