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ADDED ON: 01/10/2021

Anti-gay rhetoric ramps up fear among LGBT+ Ugandans ahead of polls

1/9/21 | Reuters

Homophobic comments by Uganda’s president and other politicians are making some LGBT+ Ugandans too scared to vote in elections scheduled for Jan. 14, gay rights campaigners said on Tuesday. LGBT+ people face widespread persecution in the east African nation, where gay sex is punishable by life imprisonment, and gay activists fear politicians exploiting homophobic sentiment to win votes could stoke fresh attacks on the community. “We have seen increased harassment against LGBT persons and those who speak up for gay rights,” said Frank Mugisha, who has received dozens of threats over the years as head of the leading LGBT+ rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). “The politicians are using the LGBT community as a scapegoat to gain support and win votes and it is fuelling homophobia,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. President Yoweri Museveni, 76, is seeking to extend his 34-year rule, but is facing a challenge from 11 candidates, including Robert Kyagulanyi, a pop star turned lawmaker known as Bobi Wine who has won popular support. The run-up to the polls has been marred by Uganda’s worst political violence in decades.

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