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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 17:05 GMT
Zanzibar to get tough on gay men
Zanzibar stone town
New laws are aimed at fighting a creeping gay culture
A new bill has been drafted in Zanzibar imposing stiffer penalties for homosexuality and lesbianism.

Deputy attorney general Omar Makungu said if enacted the new law would also ban same sex marriages.

Under current laws, homosexuality is already illegal, but Mr Makungu says they want to stop the practice becoming an accepted part of Zanzibari culture.

Correspondents say the number of homosexuals and lesbians is on the rise in the Indian Ocean Island.

Life imprisonment

"We have heard that same sex marriages have taken place here and we want to guard against this trend," Mr Makungu told the BBC Swahili service.

He said they have also proposed a maximum life imprisonment sentence for anyone found guilty of sodomy.

Known lesbians in Zanzibar now risk being jailed for seven years, according to the draft proposals.

Zanzibar is a key tourist destination along the East African coast.

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