Hundreds of people demonstrated against gays in Uganda's capital Tuesday and called for the deportation of an American journalist who covers gay issues in the east African nation.
"Homosexuality breaks the laws of God, the laws of nature and the laws of Uganda," said Pastor Martin Ssempa, spokesman for the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality.
"We are asking the government to be strong and uphold the laws of our country banning this repugnant practice in spite of great external pressure," he said.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
A coalition of religious groups, including Christians, Muslims and Bahai, organized the protest. Hundreds of people gathered at a Kampala sports ground waving banners with anti-gay messages, including posters that said "Deport Roubos."
Katherine Roubos, a 22-year-old from Minnesota, arrived in the East African nation in June to begin a three-month internship with the Daily Monitor newspaper. She was assigned to cover gay issues in the country.
"We people of Uganda have values. If this lady cannot respect them then she had better be deported," said Eddie Semakula, a member of the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality.
"She is advocating for the rights of homosexuals in a paper that is read by children even. We must protect our children."
The group is writing a protest letter to the Aga Khan - the spiritual leader of 20 million Ismaili Muslims - who owns the Monitor newspaper, he said.
Last week, Uganda's gay community spoke out publicly for the first time at a news conference in Kampala. Many attendees wore masks to hide their identities for fear of recrimination. They asked for Ugandans to respect their human rights and allow them to live in dignity.
Roubos insists she has been impartial in her reporting. She has worked with numerous advocacy groups in the U.S., including on gay rights issues.
"I was given this assignment by my editor, I didn't ask for it," she told the Associated Press. "I just present facts. None of my personal opinions are in the stories."
Most African states have laws forbidding homosexuality, and gays are frequently harassed or beaten up in many places on the continent.
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