Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill Not Supported by Government

Although the government is distancing itself from the bill, they say the debate among lawmakers must continue.

Posted: 02/09/2012 10:56 AM EST

The Ugandan government responded to human rights activists concerned about the pending anti-homosexuality law Wednesday, stating that although the government does not support such measures, the debate among lawmakers must go on.

"As a parliamentary democracy the process of debate will continue," the government said in a statement according to the Associated Press. "Whilst the government of Uganda does not support this bill, it is required under our constitution to facilitate this debate. The facilitation of this debate should not be confused for the government's support for this bill.”

The bill was re-introduced Tuesday by legislator David Bahati and, if passed, would impose the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. The law also calls for fining or imprisonment of persons “of authority” who fail to report acts of homosexuality.

Human rights advocates have expressed outrage at the law which they warn would be an egregious assault on the rights of LGBT communities in Uganda.

"This deplorable bill would not only violate the rights of Ugandans to life, to non-discrimination, to equality before the law, and to privacy, but would sanction hatred, violence and the persecution of a group of people based on whom they love alone," Michelle Kagari, deputy program director for Africa at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

According to the BBC, Bahati has since said that the newly revised version of the bill will not include the death penalty provision. However, as the agency reports, for many gay Ugandans the social stigma supported by the law is worse than a death sentence.

"What I'm worried about most is not even the police coming to arrest me, it's my neighbor attacking me — it's the motorbike cyclist [taxi] refusing to take me to a destination. I'll be killed before I reached my destination,” Pepe Julian Onziema, a gay Ugandan woman told the BBC.

The international spotlight on state treatment of homosexuals in Uganda and the rest of Africa has been intensified lately as countries consider increasingly oppressive laws. Many countries in Africa have laws criminalizing homosexuality and donor nations, such as the United States, have threatened to withhold funds unless improvements are made.

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(Photo: James Akena/Reuters)