UGANDA: LAWMAKERS REMOVE DEATH PENALTY CLAUSE FROM ANTI-GAY BILL
May 12, 2011: after intense international criticism, proponents of an anti-gay bill before Uganda's parliament have removed a punitive clause that called for hanging people who have consensual homosexual sex.
However, they were expected to push ahead with the measure, which criminalizes the promotion of homosexuality.
The bill was to be debated yesterday, the last day of the current parliament, but was dropped from the agenda. There were reports it might be debated tomorrow in an special session.
If not, the bill can be reintroduced when the new parliament convenes.
Anti-gay activists have promoted the measure aggressively since it was introduced in 2009, accusing gays of recruiting children.
The bill was condemned in its original form as "odious" by President Obama, and has been attacked by groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. More than 1.4 million people have signed an online petition opposing the bill.
"It is deeply alarming that the Ugandan parliament is again considering this appalling bill, which flies in the face of human decency and violates international human rights law," said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International's deputy director for Africa.
Although the bill's author, lawmaker David Bahati, announced that the death penalty had been removed from the bill, no new version has been publicly released. One of the country's most prominent anti-gay campaigners, Pastor Martin Ssempa, told a parliamentary committee this week that he did not support the death penalty for homosexuality but urged legislators to go ahead with other aspects of the law.
Anyone who counseled or abetted people in committing homosexual acts â including landlords who rented houses or rooms to gay people â would face seven years in jail.
The bill makes it compulsory for people to report acts of homosexuality within 24 hours of becoming aware of them and penalizes those who fail to do so. (Sources: LA Times, 12/05/2011)