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U.S. lawmakers condemn Uganda’s proposed ‘kill the gays’ bill

Thursday, February 4, 2010
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U.S. lawmakers this week introduced resolutions in both the House and Senate, condemning an anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda’s parliament, calling it an attack on human rights and an obstacle to battling HIV/AIDS.

The Ugandan bill, dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill, would execute people for being gay if they have HIV/AIDS or were convicted of aggravated homosexuality.

The Senate resolution says the United States cannot support Uganda’s efforts to make homosexuality punishable by death because of the “core American principles of equality and ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’”

It also says that such laws undermine the United States’ efforts to fight HIV and AIDS in the region by stigmatizing and criminalizing vulnerable people.

Senators Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), issued the Senate resolution.

In addition to condemning the proposed legislation in Uganda, the bipartisan resolution urges all countries around the world to reject and repeal similar laws that criminalize homosexuality, and encourages the United States Department of State to closely monitor human rights abuses that occur because of sexual orientation.

On Wednesday, Rep. Howard Berman (D-California) introduced the House version to the Foreign Affairs Committee, which was been signed by more than three dozen other members, including Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), committee ranking Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and Congressional Black Caucus chair Barbara Lee of California.

“The proposed Ugandan bill not only threatens human rights, it also reverses so many of the gains that Uganda has made in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Baldwin said in a statement on Thursday. “This issue has united leaders of different political and religious views in Uganda and worldwide in one common belief in the rights of all human beings regardless of sexual orientation.”

The Ugandan legislation would increase the penalty for same-sex sexual acts to life in prison, limit the distribution of information on HIV by criminalizing the “promotion of homosexuality,” and establish the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by death for anyone in Uganda who is HIV positive and has consensual same-sex relations.

The bill also includes a provision that could lead to the imprisonment for up to three years of anyone who fails to report to the government within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who supports human rights for people who are.

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