US condemns ‘odious’ Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The US State Department has strongly condemned Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill.

Addressing journalists yesterday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: “No amendments, no changes, would justify the passage of this odious bill. Both [President Barack Obama] and [Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] publicly said it is inconsistent with universal human rights standards and obligations.”

He added: “We are following this legislative process very closely. Our embassy is closely monitoring the parliament’s proceedings and we also are in close contact with Uganda’s civil rights and civil society leaders, as well as members of the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community there.”

The anti-homosexuality bill, which was introduced in 2009, appeared on Wednesday’s order paper for discussion in parliament but lawmakers did not have time to debate it. It may be discussed today.

The bill’s sponsor, MP David Bahati, claims he has removed the harshest aspect of the bill, which demands the death penalty in some cases. However, no amended bill has been published.

If passed in its current form, the bill will demand the execution of gay people who have sex while HIV-positive or with minors or disabled people. The death penalty would also be used for repeat offenders.

Other clauses would require people such as family members, teachers and doctors to report cases to homosexuality to the police within 24 hours or face a prison sentence.

More than 1.4 million people have signed petitions against the bill.

Earlier this week, British foreign secretary William Hague said he was pressuring Uganda to drop the legislation.

However, it is popular among lawmakers and an electorate which sees homosexuality as perverted and un-African.