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Briton faces Uganda gay sex trial

Man faces possible prison term after stolen images of him engaging in homosexual acts were published by tabloid.

Last updated: 14 Nov 2013 12:20
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Proposed legislation would see death penalty for certain homosexual acts if passed by parliament [AFP]

A British man faces a possible two-year prison sentence after stolen images of him engaging in sex with another man were published by a tabloid and then discovered by police in Uganda, where homosexual acts are illegal.

Bernard Randall, a 65-year-old retiree who pleaded not guilty last month in a Ugandan court to charges of "trafficking obscene publications," is next due to appear in court on November 18.

Days after Randall arrived in Uganda on holiday, 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.

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.

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.

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