South Africa: SA steers clear of homosexuality debate

posted in: Africa

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – South Africa will not take a position on other African countries’ policies and legislation imposing punishment on gay people, government spokesperson Phumla Williams said Friday.

Williams said the South African government acknowledges and respects everyone’s rights in the country, but will not follow the path of those who have been criticising the signing into law of the anti-gay bill by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan.

Among the critics of the Nigerian law is the UN, which said the anti-gay law “violates so many basic, universal human rights”.

Under the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law, persons who engage in same-sex marriage will each be liable to 14 years in prison, while anyone who directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex relationships will be jailed 10 years.

“Marriage or civil union entered between persons of same gender shall not be solemnized in any place of worship, either church or mosque or any place in Nigeria. Any persons or group of persons that administers, witnesses, screen and shields the solemnisation of same sex marriage in Nigeria on conviction, will be liable to 10 years imprisonment,” the law stipulates.

There is widespread support for the law in Africa’s most populous nation, whose 170 million people, who are mostly Christians and Muslims, are deeply religious.

The gay issue is also under the spotlight in Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni this week refused to approve a controversial bill that would see homosexuals jailed for life.

However, the Ugandan President has said there are better ways to cure the “abnormality” of homosexuality.

Uganda’s anti-gay bill sailed through the parliament last month after its architects agreed to drop a death penalty clause.

Photo: Madikazemi

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