Protests ask Commonwealth to “fight” gays

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A group of anti-gay activists has protested in Uganda against gay rights and accused Europeans of trying to change the law to decriminalise homosexuality.

The demonstration by the Rainbow Coalition against Homosexuality took place at Kololo airport yesterday, and was led by Pastor Martin Sempa, who has generated large amounts of publicity through his attacks on gay people in Uganda.

Yesterday Her Majesty the Queen, who is in the African nation to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, praised the country’s work on HIV/AIDS during a visit to a clinic.

Pastor Sempa said: : “If Uganda is leading in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it should do the same to fight homosexuality.

“The government is under pressure to legalise homosexuality. Europeans send people money to change the laws in order to legalise homosexuality.”

He urged the Ugandan leadership to use the three-day conference, which begins today, to take the fight against homosexuality to other Commonwealth nations.

There were protests from gay rights activists at the decision to hold the international meeting in Uganda.

Last month James Nsaba Buturo, the country’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, told All Africa news agency that the government is committed to stopping LGBT people “trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society.”

Members of Parliament in Uganda have urged the country’s government to speak out against gay rights at the CHOGM.

One MP, demanding a “clamp down” against lesbian and gay Ugandans, said that the international event, to be held in the capital later this month, would be a good opportunity to “send a clear message that gays are not welcome in Uganda.”

Gay sex is punishable in Uganda by life imprisonment, under laws originally introduced by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century.

The Queen is on her first visit to Uganda since 1954 and today she opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kampala.

The meeting, held every two years, is expected to be dominated by discussions about the situation in Pakistan.

53 heads of government, among them Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are in attendance.