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Binyavanga Wainaina Gay: Kenyan Author Comes Out In Protest Of Nation's Homophobic Legislation

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Prize-winning Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina talks during a television interview in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Wainaina, one of Africa's leading literary figures, spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday to explain his decision to publicly declare his homosexuality in an online essay last weekend, in light of a wave of new legislation further criminalizing homosexuality in Nigeria and Uganda. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — African literary light Binyavanga Wainaina announces he is gay to protest laws criminalizing homosexuality on the continent.

The prize-winning Kenyan author marked his 43rd birthday with an online essay in which he writes how he regrets not telling his mother that before she died. His story contributes to an increasingly fierce debate about gays in Africa, where it is illegal to have homosexual sex in most countires.

Wainaina told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he came out to help preserve his dignity.

He lashed out at new legislation further criminalizing homosexuality in Nigeria and Uganda. He also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia's stance on gays.

Gays in many parts of Africa face severe harassment, physical threats and judicial punishment. Kenya has a law banning sodomy.

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