Ugandan anti-gay bill may be ready by Christmas

2014-11-21 08:47
Anti-Homosexual activists march on the streets of Kampala carrying placards. (Isaac Kasamani, AFP)

Anti-Homosexual activists march on the streets of Kampala carrying placards. (Isaac Kasamani, AFP)

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Kampala - Ugandan lawmakers said on Thursday they have drawn up new anti-gay legislation with cross-bench support, and hope to present it before parliament by the end of the year.

The move comes nearly a year after Ugandan MPs passed a bill that would have seen gays face up to life in prison, only to see the bill struck down by the constitutional court on a technicality.

"We are going to retable it, the committee has done its work", MP Latif Ssebalgala told AFP, a member of the team drafting the bill, which also includes Vice President Edward Ssekandi.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda under a 1950s penal code which remains in force and prescribes jail for those found guilty of homosexual acts.

Opposition chief whip Cecilia Ogwal said they would support the bill.

"As long as homosexuals target and take advantage of our children and vulnerable people, the opposition will support an anti-gay law presented to us", she said, according to the Daily Monitor newspaper.

According to a leaked copy of the new draft bill, MPs have focussed on outlawing the "promotion" of homosexuality; something that activists said made it far more repressive and wide-reaching, with a proposed sentence of up to seven years in jail.

Activists have warned the revival of such legislation will result in violence against gays.

The bill "should be presented to the public before Christmas", the Monitor added, quoting lawmakers, although others suggested there would not be time, with only 11 sitting days left before holidays.

President Yoweri Museveni has been under pressure for several months from his own party to ensure that anti-gay legislation is passed.

Last month, however, Museveni, who signed off on the original bill signalled he was having second thoughts. He argued the east African nation needed to consider the impact on trade and economic growth.

Critics said Museveni signed the previous law to win domestic support ahead of a presidential election scheduled for 2016, which will be his 30th year in power.

Although very popular domestically, the previous law was branded draconian and "abominable" by rights groups and condemned by several key allies and donors including the European Union and United States.

Read more on:    yoweri museveni  |  uganda  |  gay rights  |  east africa

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