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Too Afraid to Vote in Uganda

Homophobic comments by Uganda’s president and other politicians are making some LGBT+ Ugandans too scared to vote in elections scheduled for January 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. Real Raymond, head of LGBT+ charity Mbarara Rise Foundation in western Uganda, said politicians were also making “hate speeches” on the campaign trail, such as pledges to eradicate homosexuality in Uganda, if they were to be elected. Campaigners also said December’s arrest of Nicholas Opiyo — one of Uganda’s most prominent human rights lawyers, known for representing sexual minorities — was also contributing to an increasingly tense environment for LGBT+ Ugandans. Opiyo has been charged with money laundering and released on bail. His organisation, Chapter Four Uganda, said the charges were “fabricated and malicious” and aimed at obstructing his work as a human rights attorney.