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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Gay rights in Africa: In Mauritania and Sudan, same-sex relationships can lead to the death penalty

LONDON, May 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - African countries have some of the most prohibitive laws against homosexuality in the world - same-sex relationships are a crime in many of them and can lead to imprisonment or the death penalty.

On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, here are a few facts about LGBT rights on the African continent:

* Same sex acts are illegal in 32 countries across the continent.

* Laws criminalising same-sex relationships only apply to women in only 24 of these. In countries such as Ghana, Kenya or Sierra Leone, it is illegal for men to engage in consensual sex with someone of the same sex but not for women.

* In Mauritania and Sudan, same-sex relationships can lead to the death penalty.

* In Nigeria, 54 people went on trial last week on charges connected to allegations that they were celebrating a gay wedding, which are outlawed in the country. A bill was signed in 2014 that criminalised same-sex relationships, with penalties of up to 14 years in prison.

* South Africa is the only African country that has legalised gay marriage. Same-sex marriage legislation came into force there in 2006.

* Only 19 percent of African respondents approved of same-sex marriage in a survey conducted in October 2016.

* Ivory Coast and its capital Abidjan are considered a refuge for the LGBT community in the region with gay bars, gay rights groups, and even an annual cross-dressing beauty pageant. 

Sources: ILGA, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Reuters, May 17, 2017

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