Monday, November 08, 2004

Zanzibar: gays and the law

Interesting Reuters article ...
In August, the government [...] outlawed gay sex and set prison terms of up to 25 years for men and seven years for lesbians. The law also set a penalty of life imprisonment for sodomising a minor.

The government argues there has always been a law against homosexuality, but that it was vague. Officials say the revised legislation is effective because it defines clearly what parliament considers indecent sexual practices.

[...] Although Zanzibar is 95 percent Muslim, islanders say homosexuality and bisexuality have been practised among its one million people for as long as many can remember.

[...] Zanzibar has long relied on tourism for much-needed foreign exchange revenue, but the government's recent move has prompted travel agencies specialising in trips for gays and lesbians to threaten a boycott.

The government protests.

[...] But there may be hope for a reprieve for Zanzibar's gay community. The main opposition party, the Civic United Front (CUF), say they would amend the law if they came to power in elections due in 2005. (source)