Ugandan minister says anti-gay bill is likely to be changed

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Uganda’s deputy foreign minister Henry Okello Oryem has said his country’s anti-homosexuality bill is likely to be changed before it passes into law.

Mr Oyrem did not give details of what changes would be made, but told the BBC he was “sure it will take a different form when it is tabled on the floor in parliament”.

But he added that the government did not currently have the power to alter the proposed legislation at this stage, as it is a private member’s bill.

“Homosexuality is not a top priority for the people of Uganda,” Mr Oyrem said.

“Our priority is to make sure there is food on the table of our people – that we deal with the issue of disease.”

The bill was tabled by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, who has said it will protect the “traditional family”.

It proposes the death penalty for people who have gay sex with minors, disabled people, or while infected with HIV, along with repeat offenders.

Others convicted of homosexual sex will face life imprisonment, up from the current 14 year sentence.

The bill was introduced last year but other senior politicians Uganda expressed reservation about it in recent months, since countries such as the UK and US urged against it.

President Yoweri Museveni said Uganda had to consider its foreign interests and Mr Bahati said last month that he may amend the bill “without putting the values of the country at risk”.

It has caused alarm around the world and US President Barack Obama described it as “odious” at yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast.