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Uganda anti-gay bill 'grave assault' on rights: Amnesty

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By AFP

Posted  Wednesday, February 8  2012 at  10:29
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Amnesty International warned on Tuesday that Uganda could soon pass an anti-homosexuality bill that would introduce draconian provisions and constitute "a grave assault" on human rights.

A controversial bill that calls for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts was recently re-introduced in the Ugandan parliament after lawmakers failed to debate it during the last session of the legislative body.

It brings in the death penalty for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time as well as for gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV.

It also proposes to criminalise public discussion of homosexuality and would penalise an individual who knowingly rents property to a homosexual.

"It’s alarming and disappointing that Uganda’s Parliament will once again consider the Anti-Homosexuality Bill," said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Africa Programme 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," she said.

"The bill introduces draconian provisions on top of Uganda’s existing prohibition on consensual same-sex relations, which already violates international norms," Amnesty said.

"At the bill’s reintroduction, the Speaker informed the House that the bill would not need to be considered again by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, raising fears that it could be passed into law imminently," Amnesty said.

"The bill would significantly hamper the work of human rights defenders and others who find themselves in conflict with the law merely by carrying out their legitimate activities.

"The knock-on effect of passing this bill would reach far beyond gay and lesbian people in Uganda, impeding the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals, and community leaders."

"This deplorable bill would not only violate the rights of Ugandans to life, to non-discrimination, to equality before the law, and to privacy, but would sanction hatred, violence and the persecution of a group of people based on whom they love alone," Kagari said.

"We strongly urge the Ugandan Parliament to reject this bill in its entirety. It must not legislate hate."