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'Homosexuality not new in Africa'

Amnesty International says there are ancient cave paintings depicting male-to-male sex.

FILE: Amnesty International says there are ancient cave paintings depicting male-to-male sex. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Homosexuality was acceptable in Africa before colonialism, according to Amnesty International.

Homosexuality is a touchy subject in most countries and is illegal in 38 African countries.

Today, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will sign into law a controversial anti-gay bill that allows for harsh penalties for being homosexual.

This may result in that country losing crucial aid, but Museveni maintains homosexuality is immoral and they would rather lose the funding.

Deputy Director of Amnesty International Southern Africa Noel Kututwa told the Redi Tlhabi Show that many African countries are criminalising homosexuality.

"What we see in a report Amnesty International released mid-year last year titled Making Love a Crime is there has been a tendency to increase homophobia and also to increase criminalisation of same-sex conduct."

Kututwa blames politicians for fuelling homophobia.

"Most of this is being driven by politicians who all of a sudden have started to put the spotlight on homosexuality and have ramped up communities to go against homosexual conduct."

He says the argument that homosexuality is foreign to Africa is not true.

"In Africa homosexuality is nothing new. In fact, there are cave paintings which have been found in Zimbabwe which are more than 2,000 years old of male-to-male sex. You find that in most African languages there are terms for homosexuality and those who have studied culture will say that once you find a term in a particular language that's indicative of the fact that that phenomenon is there and is accepted."

Kututwa blamed colonialism for bringing homophobia in Africa.

"When colonialism came and with it the laws that governed colonialism, anti-gay laws came in."