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Rights group: Ugandan lawmaker revives anti-gay bill

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:12 AM EST, Wed February 8, 2012
In November 2010, Uganda's 'Rolling Stone' newspaper ran a campaign against homosexuals.
In November 2010, Uganda's 'Rolling Stone' newspaper ran a campaign against homosexuals.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is first proposed in October 2009
  • It sparks an international outcry and is later shelved
  • Homosexuality is illegal in most countries in Africa

(CNN) -- A Ugandan lawmaker has revived a controversial bill that makes engaging in some homosexual acts punishable by death, a rights group said, a proposal that provoked an international outcry three years ago.

The anti-homosexuality bill was first proposed in October 2009, prompting threats from some European nations to cut aid to Uganda, which relies on millions of dollars from foreign countries.

It was later shelved, with a Ugandan government spokesman saying late last year that the bill was killed because it did not reflect a national consensus.

"It's alarming and disappointing that Uganda's Parliament will once again consider the anti-homosexuality bill," said Michelle Kagari, the deputy Africa program director at Amnesty International. "If passed, it would represent a grave assault on the human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

Uganda gay rights

A Ugandan government spokesman did not respond to CNN requests for comment.

The bill is popular among some lawmakers in the nation, and it remains a simmering issue in Parliament. Its progress has been hindered by an international outcry, including condemnation from U.S. President Barack Obama.

In addition to proposing the death penalty for certain gay acts, it calls for anyone aware of violations to report them to the authorities or face criminal sanction, according to Human Rights Watch.

In 2010, the lawmaker behind it said the bill is necessary in the conservative east African nation.

"This is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children," said David Bahati, the lawmaker. "Every single day of my life now I am still pushing that it passes."

In addition to punishing homosexuals, it also proposes years in prison for anyone who counsels or reaches out to homosexuals, a provision that would ensnare rights groups, they said.

"It aims to criminalize the 'promotion' of homosexuality, compels HIV testing in some circumstances, and imposes life sentences for entering into a same-sex marriage," Amnesty International said in a statement Tuesday. "It would also be an offense for a person who is aware of any violations of the bill's wide-ranging provisions not to report them to the authorities within 24 hours."

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries, where sodomy laws were introduced during colonialism. In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years to life in prison, according to rights activists.

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