Russia Not Only Country With Anti-Gay Laws

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..."What's happening in Russia is horrific; but to make it even worse, Russia is not alone," said Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "The sad truth is that many countries around the world have preceded Russia in singling out LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] people."...



In April 2009, Burundi's lower house of government passed a law outlawing homosexual activity, with prison sentences for the convicted ranging from two months to three years. President Pierre Nkurunziza led the criminalization effort and worked with the country's National Assembly to sign the act into law, even after its senate overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.

Burundi, a landlocked Francophone nation in East Africa, previously had some of the most lenient policies toward the LGBT community in the region, particularly when compared with Kenya (10 years hard labor), Uganda (14 years to life imprisonment), and Tanzania (20 years to life).

A 2011 report by the U.S. State Department stated, though, that no one in Burundi had been arrested or prosecuted under the anti-gay law that year, feeding the suspicions of the president's critics that the move was a political ploy.

That some of the more vicious crackdowns on LGBT communities are taking place in sub-Saharan Africa's poorest countries is not a coincidence, said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's Jessica Stern, since the attention they generate can sometimes provide a useful distraction from other pressing priorities.

"It's a great political strategy—find those who are the most hated and pick on them," she said. "And then people forget to think about whether or not schools are being fixed up for their children, and whether the rich are getting richer at the poor's expense."