Calls grow for Uganda to reject anti-gay bill

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A bill in Uganda which would see gay people being executed has led to protests and public calls for it to be rejected.

America, France and the UK have already expressed concern over the bill, which would create a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality”.

It would mean death or life imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality. Those found guilty of “promoting” homosexuality would also received harsh punishments.

On Saturday, around 40 activists, including John Bosco Nyombi, the gay Ugandan man who recently won his asylum fight, protested outside Ugandan House in central London.

MEP Michael Cashman, the co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, has called the bill “deeply worrying” and said his group will be keeping an eye on developments.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, co-president of the Intergroup said: “I strongly appeal to Ugandan politicians to be as courageous as they were when overthrowing the Idi Amin regime and not to ban Ugandan citizens from being free to love whomever they wish. Homosexuality is nothing un-African; it has existed at all times and in all cultures.”

Others who have joined the calls for action are the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and the Pink Triangle Trust.

The Pink Triangle Trust has written a letter to Joan Rwabyomere, the Ugandan High Commissioner in the UK, to ask her to bring the concerns before Ugandan authorities.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, a long-time LGBT activist and director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, has written an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and primates of the Anglican Communion to ask them to publicly condemn the move, saying it was based on “irrational hatred”.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission were also quick to call for the bill to be scrapped.

They have condemned the proposed laws, saying they would violate basic human rights. Others warned it would lead to a rise in HIV infections, while some warned that other minority groups were likely to find themselves receiving similar treatment.

The private members bill, presented to Uganda’s parliament by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, means that those convicted of having gay sex with disabled people and those under the 18 would face the death penalty.

The bill also imposes life imprisonment on those who have homosexual sex. Although this is already the case in Uganda, the new law widens the definition of the offence.

Other offences include promoting homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality and keeping a house “for purposes of homosexuality”.

Bahati has argued his bill will protect children, youths and the “traditional family”.

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