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President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has just signed a new law introducing harsher penalties for homosexual acts, including life imprisonment in some circumstances. A Nigerian law that took effect in January punishes homosexual acts in that country with 14-year prison sentences.The Last year, Russia enacted a law banning "gay propaganda". And in January, India's parliament refused to consider abolishing an 1861 law, passed under British colonial rule, that mandates 10-year prison sentences for homosexual acts. Supporters of such legislation – including advocates in the U.S. of a recently proposed Arizona law that would have permitted business owners to refuse service to gays on religious grounds – argue that it reflects an organic popular backlash against a threat to "traditional" values.It was legal, if frowned upon, for gay men to engage in all other forms of sexual intimacy.But new laws passed in Britain in the first half of the 19th century – for example, the Offenses against the Person Act of 1828 – made gay sex and even gay relationships among men increasingly easy to prosecute.
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