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Wednesday, November 3, 1999 Published at 14:28 GMT

World: Africa

Gay doctor flees Uganda

President Museveni announced a crackdown on gay people a month ago

A Ugandan doctor is seeking asylum in South Africa, after he fled his country following President Yoweri Museveni's recent call for gays to be locked up.

Dr Steve Kabiku tells the BBC why he fled to South Africa
The gay doctor, who has taken the name Steve Kabiku, fled his country because he said it was too risky to continue living where he could now be imprisoned for his sexuality.

Mr Kabiku told the BBC's Network Africa that to avoid arrest he kept a low profile and was warned by his family to remove his jewellery and stop putting decorations in his hair.

"I was pretty scared. I stopped going out in the town during the day."

"If people in any way feel that you are gay they are quite aggresive towards you."

Arrest fear

Under Ugandan law, homosexuals can be charged with "carnal knowledge of another against the order of nature" and conviction can lead to life imprisonment.

He said he had heard the Ugandan aurthorities were thinking of changing this to capital punishment and this prompted his departure.

Fearing his arrest, the doctor flew to South Africa, his easiest option, as he had lived there before.

He said he was not planning to seek asylum in South Africa, but he realised he was unlikely to be able to secure a job and work permit before his three-week visa had expired.

President Museveni's crackdown on homosexuals is said to have widespread support in Uganda with one poll suggesting that 84% of Kampala residents do not want homosexuality legalised.

The idea that homosexuality is an imported western practice and essentially "un-African" is also an issue in ZImbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe once described homosexuals as "worse than pigs and dogs".

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