Uganda govt 'not backing anti-gay bill'

2012-02-09 12:03

Kampala - Uganda's government has distanced itself from a controversial anti-gay bill calling for severe penalties on homosexuality after it was reintroduced in parliament this week.

But in a statement released late on Wednesday, the government said parliament had the right to debate the legislation, which was shelved last year after widespread condemnation.

"The bill itself was introduced by a backbencher," said the statement.

"It does not form part of the government's legislative programme and it does not enjoy the support of the prime minister or the cabinet.

"However, as Uganda is a constitutional democracy, it is appropriate that if a private member's bill is presented to parliament it be debated."

David Bahati, the MP behind the legislation, reintroduced the bill on Tuesday after lawmakers voted last year to automatically pass it over to the new session of the parliament. MPs had failed to debate it last time round.

Lawmakers applauded Bahati as the bill - which US President Barack Obama has described as "odious" - was introduced, clapping their hands, thumping the seats in parliament and chanting "our bill".

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the proposed bill has previously attracted heavy criticism for the draconian penalties it proposed.

It would introduce the death sentence for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time, as well as for gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV.

Strong criticism

It also proposes to criminalise public discussion of homosexuality - including by rights groups - with a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

While the government said that even if the bill were passed it "would not sanction the death penalty," parliament officials insisted it had been tabled without amendments and still included the controversial clause.

Kampala also accused critics of the bill of ignoring "far graver and far more draconian legislation relating to homosexuality in other countries."

"One might ask for example, if Uganda enjoyed as close a relationship with the US and European countries as Saudi Arabia [which sentences homosexuals to corporal and capital punishment] would we have attracted the same opprobrium as a result of allowing this parliamentary debate?" the statement said.

The reintroduction of the bill sparked strong criticism from rights groups. Amnesty International urged MPs to reject it.

"If passed, it would represent a grave assault on the human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity," Michelle Kagari, the rights group's Africa programme director said this week.

  • Godfrey - 2012-02-09 12:37

    Well this is good news and demonstrates that pressure from democratic governments and human rights organisation does have an effect. The American Jesus evangelicals who initiated the whole homophobic hate campaign will be miffed though.

      tbooze - 2012-02-09 13:06

      cum on guys ......why does is matter who u sleep with @ night

      Juann Strauss - 2012-02-09 13:37

      You have no clue what you're talking about.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-09 14:05

      @Juaan Who doesn't now what? Another intelligent response from a sky daddy believer.

  • Moi - 2012-02-09 12:59

    Hopefully they will keep setting it aside. How can you sentence someone to death just because their sexual preference offends you????

  • Lumko Ntshinka - 2012-02-09 13:00

    Typical african country ruled by stupid narrow minded individuals

  • Gareth Marvin McClure - 2012-02-09 13:11

    God gave mankind freewill to live by his word or sin against him is mankind challenging him? Christians are going to kill their own religion by the glorified hatred for life as human beings

  • Juann Strauss - 2012-02-09 13:36

    "The bill itself was introduced by a backbencher," LOL

  • spacepirate - 2012-02-09 13:43


      Godfrey - 2012-02-09 13:59

      Why? Its book full of bollocks, lies and hate.

  • Peter Jacobs - 2012-02-09 14:17

    @ Shaun and Dirk....u prob closet cases! u hate something u dont undertsand. grow up!!!!!

      Godfrey - 2012-02-09 14:36

      Did Shaun and Dirk make their usual hateful comments and then delete them when challenged? Moral cowards.

  • Mark - 2012-02-09 14:22

    @shaun Robinson wait untill one of your kids turn out to be gay then you will sing another song .LOL

  • Vince.York - 2012-02-09 14:23

    Uganda MUST BE VERY BACKWARD AND UNCIVILISED!!!! not to mention probably unhygienic in their persons. The threat of losing $Billions of the most common African success story (filling the begging bowl in outstretched black claws with foreign donor monies) carried the day here. BUT this proposal has to be aggravated by some weird church cult group or pseudo faith calling, most likely stemming in the USA as well - and comes nowhere near the expressions of life as per christian faith.

      Garth - 2012-02-09 15:04

      @vince - you know nothing of Uganda. It is THE country in Africa that is winning the fight against hiv. Now, I cannot agree with sentencing someone to death for engaging in sexual activity, with their own particular sexual preference, so long as it is between consenting adults, but I can agree with sentencing someone to death for knowingly infecting someone with hiv.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-09 16:24

      @Garth No unreasonable at all. People must take responsibility for their actions.

  • atholl.hay - 2012-02-09 14:25

    Shaun Robinson's very dumb and bigoted comment has been removed. Yay! Hey, maybe there is a god after all....

      stuart.steedman - 2012-02-09 14:30

      This just in: god is a News24 moderator! (Makes more sense than having god as a gay-hating, genocidal, invisible fearmonger.)

      Godfrey - 2012-02-09 14:37

      Shaun is a hit-and-run moral coward.

      Shaun Robinson - 2012-02-09 17:38

      I don't think I ever said God hate's homosexuals. in actual fact I have many gay friends but that does not make it right. Wake up and smell the coffee, Romans 1 from vs 24, go read it. Can't argue with the big black book... and Godfrey, I deleted nothing my friend I'm stand for what I believe in...

  • phathuchicos - 2012-02-09 15:55

    ITS AFRIKA...thats how we roll. we go the opposite of the where the rest of the world is going...

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