New anti-gay bill drawn up in Uganda

Legislation to focus on outlawing "promotion" of homosexuality and proposes jail terms of seven years, politicians say.

    New anti-gay bill drawn up in Uganda
    The bill comes a year after legislation enforcing life imprisonment was overturned [AFP]

    Ugandan politicians have said they have drawn up new anti-gay legislation with cross-bench support, and hope to present it before parliament by the end of the year.

    The move comes nearly a year after Ugandan MPs passed a bill that would have seen homosexuals face up to life in prison. The bill was later struck down by the constitutional court on a technicality.

    "We are going to retable it, the committee has done its work," Latif Ssebaggala, MP, told AFP news agency on Thursday.

    Ssebaggala is a member of the team drafting the bill, which also includes Vice President Edward Ssekandi.

    Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda under a 1950s penal code which remains in force and prescribes jail for those found guilty of homosexual acts.

    Cecilia Ogwal, the opposition chief whip, said they would support the bill.

    "As long as homosexuals target and take advantage of our children and vulnerable people, the opposition will support an anti-gay law presented to us," she said, according to the Daily Monitor newspaper.

    According to a leaked copy of the new draft bill, MPs have focused on outlawing the "promotion" of homosexuality, something that activists said made it far more repressive and wide-reaching, with a proposed sentence of up to seven years in jail.

    Activists have cautioned the East African nation that the revival of such legislation will result in violence against gays.

    The bill "should be presented to the public before Christmas", the Monitor said quoting politicians, although others suggested there would not be time, with only 11 sitting days left before holidays.

    President Yoweri Museveni has been under pressure for several months from his own party to ensure that anti-gay legislation is passed.

    Last month, however, Museveni, who signed off on the original bill, indicated that he was having second thoughts.

    He argued that Uganda needed to consider the impact on trade and economic growth.

    Critics said Museveni signed the previous law to win domestic support in advance of a presidential election scheduled for 2016, which will be his 30th year in power.

    Although very popular domestically, the previous law was branded draconian and "abominable" by rights groups and condemned by several key allies and donors including the EU and US.

    SOURCE: AFP


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