The former head of Uganda’s national football team has been charged with “sodomising both male and female youths” – although campaigners claim it could be just the latest example of a homophobic witch hunt.

“Uganda is a sovereign state, therefore it should stop using colonial/Victorian era laws to prosecute its citizens, this clearly re-affirms that the government of Uganda is not willing to stop gay witch hunts and gay trial shows,” said Edwin Sesange, director of the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group.

On Tuesday, Chris Mubiru was charged with “having carnal knowledge of a person against the order of nature” by a court in Kampala. Mr Mubiru denies the charges.

“This court is granting Mubiru bail basing on the good police records which indicate that after he was granted a police bond, he was reporting back as ordered,” Chief Magistrate Olive Kazaarwe said.

Mr Mubiru was arrested in December over claims he had previously carried out a sexual act with a member of Uganda’s national squad.

In 2012, the Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper had published pictures of Mr Mubiru along with the caption “Smoked out! Uganda cranes boss nabbed sodomising players – Shocking pictures inside.”

Red Pepper is the same Ugandan newspaper that outed a gay retired British banker living in Uganda.

Bernard Randell was charged in October with “trafficking obscene publications” after Red Pepper splashed details of his private life on its front page, having unearthed a pornographic video from his laptop.

His trial is due to resume this month. Mr Randell denies the charges.

Same-sex sexual relationships are illegal in Uganda. A male convicted of same-sex activity can face up to life behind bars while a woman can face up to seven years.

In December, Uganda’s Parliament passed legislation to toughen the punishment for same-sex sexual activity, including life imprisonment for ‘repeat offenders’.

It extends the current penalty of life imprisonment for anal sex to all other same-sex acts, even mere kissing and touching. The law introduces jail terms of five to seven years for promoting homosexuality, including advocating LGBT rights or assisting LGBT people or events.

The UK and US governments, criticised the move along with business magnate and investor Sir Richard Branson – who urged for a corporate boycott of Uganda.

Speaking at a Christmas prayers event, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said he would push the bill back to Parliament if he did not agree with it.

However, President Museveni is facing intense pressure from Ugandan MPs to sign the bill.

It is possible for parliamentary supporters of the bill to bypass the need for presidential approval if a further vote is tabled. They require a two-thirds majority.

LGBT campaigners will stage a protest tomorrow outside the Ugandan High Commission in London’s Trafalgar Square.