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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 21, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 51
Don't kill Gays, Uganda's president says
Section One
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Don't kill Gays, Uganda's president says

Notorious 'Anti-Homosexuality Bill' faces uncertain future

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda, has said Gay people 'should not be killed or persecuted,' as the country continues to debate the highly controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

While recently swearing in a new head of the Anglican Church of Uganda, the BBC quoted the president as saying, 'If there are some homosexuals, we shall not kill or persecute them but there should be no promotion of homosexuality. ... We cannot accept promotion of homosexuality as if it is a good thing.'

This was the first time in quite a while that Museveni commented on the bill.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda and the under the original 2009 version of the bill, Gay sex acts could warrant the death penalty. Press reports last month, however, stated that the death penalty stipulation had been dropped from the bill.

A CHRISTMAS GIFT?
The bill's official status is still somewhat obfuscated.

Uganda's Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, recently said the bill would be passed as a 'Christmas gift' to its conservative Christian supporters. However, Parliament has already adjourned until January without voting on it. Even if lawmakers approve the bill after January, President Museveni would have to sign it before it takes effect.

In the original text of the bill, the death penalty was warranted for those convicted of 'aggravated homosexuality,' which is defined as when one of the participants is a minor, disabled, HIV-positive or a 'serial offender.' It is now believed, but has not been confirmed, that this charge carries a penalty of life imprisonment.

The original bill also prohibited the 'promotion' of Gay rights and called for the punishment of anyone who 'funds or sponsors homosexuality' or 'abets homosexuality.' As of yet, no changes to this policy have been reported and Gay rights activists in Uganda say they are living in constant fear of reprisal.

According to studies conducted by various human rights organizations, an estimated 500,000 Lesbian and Gay people live in Uganda out of a total estimated population of 35 million.

Correspondents say many Ugandans are deeply conservative, and homosexuality is against both their religious and cultural beliefs. Some African opponents of homosexuality have claimed it was introduced to the continent by European colonizers.

NO SEX, PLEASE...
Sex in general, and topics related to it, are traditionally kept out of mainstream discourse in Uganda.

President Museveni said he recently told the U.S. ambassador to his country that all forms of sex were kept private in Africa, unlike in Western societies.

'I told him that I have been married to my wife for 39 years, but I have never kissed her in public or in my house [in front of] the children. If I did it, I would lose elections and you know I am not about to accept the idea of losing elections.'

It is not known if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will advance when Uganda's parliament resumes in January.

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