Thursday, 14 November 2013

British man in Uganda 'terrified' ahead of gay sex trial

A retired British man in Uganda facing trial after police found images of him having sex with another man said he is terrified, as he faces a possible two-year sentence.
Bernard Randall
Bernard Randall, 65, pleaded not guilty last month in a Ugandan court to charges of "trafficking obscene publications", after his laptop was stolen and films on the computer were handed to a Ugandan tabloid newspaper that specialises in sordid sex and celebrity stories.
"It was private images on a private computer," Randall said, describing his horror at seeing personal photographs printed in the newspaper.
"If any trafficking was done, it was by the robbers who took the laptop, and the newspaper for printing them."
Randall was charged along with a Ugandan, who has also denied far more serious accusations of carrying out "acts of gross indecency", which could see him jailed for up to seven years if found guilty.
Homosexuality is a crime in Uganda, and gay rights activists say they regularly face death threats.
"I was terrified.... I've put padlocks on the windows, checked all the locks on the doors," Randall said, adding he had feared vigilante gangs might seek to attack him.
In 2011, Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death at his home outside Kampala, drawing worldwide condemnation.
Kato's death came after a newspaper in the Ugandan capital published a picture of him in the same issue as a headline demanding that homosexuals be hanged. Situation 'breaks my heart' Randall
British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has also sent messages of support.
Randall, a former computer systems expert in the finance industry who comes from Kent in southeast England, first came to Uganda in 2011, shortly after his wife died just short of their 40-year wedding anniversary.
Randall only came out as a homosexual after his wife's death.
He returned on holiday to Uganda in September, but days after he arrived, robbers broke into where he was staying in the lakeshore town of Entebbe, near the capital Kampala, stealing cash, mobile telephones and his computer.
The robbers passed images on the laptop to the newspaper, later prompting police to arrest Randall, including taking him for a medical examination to "check" his homosexuality.
Randall, who has two grown-up daughters, said he came on holiday to enjoy Uganda during the cold winter months in Britain.
"Uganda is a wonderful country," he said. "The situation I face breaks my heart."
Uganda has repeatedly cracked down on gay activists, and proposed legislation -- stalled but still awaiting hearing before parliament -- would see the death penalty imposed for certain homosexual acts if passed.
Although legislators have said the bill could be changed, in its current form, anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time, or engaging in gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV, would be sentenced to death.
In January, Uganda dropped charges against British theatre producer David Cecil, who was arrested after being accused of staging a play about gay people in the country without proper authorisation.

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