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U.S. State Department condemns 'odious' Ugandan anti-gay bill

By Jill Dougherty, CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Mark Toner says the bill "is inconsistent with universal human rights standards and obligations."
Mark Toner says the bill "is inconsistent with universal human rights standards and obligations."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The proposed Ugandan law would punish homosexual acts by death
  • "Nothing... would justify the passage of this oodious bill," Toner says
  • The parliament may debate the bill Friday
RELATED TOPICS
  • Human Rights
  • Uganda
  • GLBT Issues

Washington (CNN) -- The State Department Thursday condemned a proposed bill in the Ugandan parliament that could make engaging in homosexual acts a capital offense punishable by death. The bill may be debated Friday by the Ugandan parliament.

"No amendments, no changes, would justify the passage of this odious bill," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. "Both (President Barack Obama) and (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) publicly said it is inconsistent with universal human rights standards and obligations."

The State Department, he said, is joining Uganda's own human rights commissions in calling for the bill's rejection.

"We are following this legislative process very closely," Toner said. "Our embassy is closely monitoring the parliament's proceedings and we also are in close contact with Uganda's civil rights and civil society leaders, as well as members of the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community there."

The original "anti-homosexuality" law was introduced in 2009. It would sentence those convicted of participating in homosexual acts to life in prison or even death. The State Department says the current bill appeared on the parliament's agenda Wednesday but lawmakers adjourned without debating it. The parliament plans to reconvene Friday, but Toner said it is not clear whether the bill will be debated or whether an amended bill still contains the death penalty.

 
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