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Govt softens anti-homosexuality Bill

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By Rodney Muhumuza

Posted  Thursday, April 22  2010 at  00:00
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A Cabinet committee has recommended changes to Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s anti-gay legislation that preclude the possibility of discarding it, Daily Monitor has learnt.

But the report, which is yet to be discussed by Cabinet, indicts Mr Bahati for not applying the kind of sophistication that would have anticipated the international condemnation that came after the draft legislation was tabled in Parliament last year.

The recommendations mean that the legislation may never be passed in its current shape, if at all, and that it may be long before it is discussed with seriousness.

Disagreeable proposal
“It is far from being a law,” a source on the committee said, requesting anonymity so as to preserve his credibility. “It is a [good] principle, but the approach of the mover has stigmatised his mission.”

It was, however, suggested that some of the proposals in the draft law, such as the death penalty for some homosexual acts, may be disagreeable.

The 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill is currently before the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, which has not indicated when it would begin scrutinising it.

In early 2010, as some foreign governments criticised Uganda over the proposed law, Cabinet established a committee whose report would guide it on the way forward.

Around that time, President Museveni told a meeting of National Resistance Movement officials to be cautious with legislation that had the potential to disrupt Uganda’s foreign policy. Local Government Minister Adolf Mwesige, who chaired the committee, yesterday said they completed their work about a month ago, but he could not say exactly when the report would be up for discussion.
“It will be [discussed] in a few weeks,” Mr Mwesige said, declining to offer details.

Daily Monitor, citing a report in the UK’s Guardian, yesterday reported that British authorities had started a process that could leave Mr Bahati banned from visiting the UK if his anti-gay legislation becomes law.

Mr Bahati denies he is in a hate campaign, saying there is evidence of young boys being clandestinely recruited into gay life.

His legislation proposes the death penalty for those found having sex with a minor or with a disabled person, as well as for gay people who infect their partners with HIV.

It also proposes life imprisonment for consenting homosexuals.
Uganda’s penal law criminalises homosexuality.