Uganda set to pass anti-gay measure with little opposition

Uganda is likely to pass a bill criminalizing homosexuality in the east African nation and deal a blow to rights activists, but the act will have some changes to appease donors who fund about a third of the budget, reports Reuters.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni

While Uganda has been lauded for its reforms and economic growth since 1986, rights groups and some donors have criticised President Yoweri Museveni’s government for increasingly cracking down on opposition, media and civil society.

Donor influence is seen waning as the country moves join the league of oil producers, and Western nations — which have largely criticized the anti-gay bill — may be unwilling to fight the act ahead of a 2011 poll.

The draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill is part of a growing campaign against homosexuals in Uganda, rights groups say. Critics say the aim is to divert attention from corruption and other political issues ahead of the 2011 national vote.

But the bill’s author, lawmaker David Bahati, says the legislation is about promoting family values.

“Homosexuality is not part of the human rights we believe in,” he said.

The act will criminalize anyone “who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality”, and a person in authority who “aids, abets, councils or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality.”  In its current from, would prescribe the death penalty for those charged with “aggravated homosexuality”.

Activists and political observers expect the bill to pass with little opposition and some minor changes, which may include modifying the death penalty to life imprisonment.

Full story from Reuters.

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