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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 3 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 01
Don't sign anti-Gay law, U.N. warns Ugandan president
Section One
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Don't sign anti-Gay law, U.N. warns Ugandan president

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has warned the President of Uganda not to sign the country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law.

The bill was passed by Uganda's parliament in December, but without the most controversial provision - the death penalty for 'repeat offender' Gays. Instead, the law calls for life in prison.

It also extends the current penalty of life imprisonment for anal sex to all other same-sex acts, even mere kissing and touching. The law introduces jail terms of five to seven years for 'promoting homosexuality,' including advocating LGBT rights or assisting LGBT people or events.

Ravina Shamdasani, U.N. spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the bill in a statement on December 31.

'LGBT individuals in Uganda are a vulnerable and marginalized minority, already facing violence and discrimination. If signed by the President, this new law would reinforce stigma and prejudice, and institutionalize discrimination,' she said.

'Urgent steps must be taken to ensure effective protection of LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination.

'The government has a legal obligation to prevent discrimination and cannot withhold basic rights from certain individuals because the majority disapproves of them,' she added.

'All people, including LGBT individuals, have the same human rights and are entitled to full protection by the state.'

Pres. Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have also condemned the measure. Britain is one of Uganda's principle sources of foreign aid, and Cameron suggested he would cut the country off if the law went into effect.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni promised to study the bill carefully before signing it.

'I will first go through it. If I find that it is right, I will sign, but if I find that it is not right, I will send it back to Parliament,' he said.

It is possible for members of Uganda's parliament to bypass the need for presidential approval, but that would require a two-thirds majority.

British LGBT rights activists said they would stage a protest January 8 outside Uganda's London embassy on Trafalgar Square.

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