Ugandan MPs working to reintroduce anti-gay law

2014-09-03 14:35
File: AP

File: AP

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Kampala - Ugandan MPs have begun work on reintroducing tough anti-gay legislation, a month after the east African nation's constitutional court declared a previous law "null and void", a report said on Wednesday.

Two MPs have been granted leave from parliament to prepare the bill for a fresh vote, the Daily Monitor newspaper reported.

The legislation would see homosexuals potentially jailed for life, outlaw the promotion of homosexuality and oblige Ugandans to denounce gays to the authorities.

The proposed law is popular domestically, but was branded draconian and "abominable" by rights groups and condemned by several key donors. It was overturned on a technicality - the lack of a quorum - by the constitutional court on August 1.

According to the paper, 254 out of 376 MPs now support reintroducing the legislation, far above the necessary one-third quorum as well as majority vote.

"As soon as the movers of this bill are ready, we will proceed. When it is introduced, we will handle it appropriately," deputy parliament speaker Jacob Oulanyah was quoted as saying.

Very conservative society

Fox Odoi, an MP who challenged the Anti-Homosexuality Act in court along with other petitioners, told AFP that supporters appeared to now have the numbers required to pass it.

"A number of us are working to sensitise MPs. But it's not something that can be done in one month or in two months, it will take many years," he admitted.

"The issue is homophobia, to fight it you need to change the mindset of a very conservative society. It can't be done overnight."

Homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda and punishable by a jail sentence, even without the tough new law.

US Secretary of State John Kerry likened the law to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany, and Western nations froze or redirected millions of dollars of government aid in response.

Critics have accused veteran President Yoweri Museveni - who had signed off on the law in February - of drumming up homophobia to boost support ahead of a presidential election scheduled for 2016, which will be his 30th year in power.

Read more on:    uganda  |  east africa  |  gay rights

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