Tags: US | Uganda | gay.law

U.S. Pressing Uganda on Antigay Law


KAMPALA, Uganda -- U.S. officials are turning up the heat on Uganda over a controversial proposal to toughen laws against homosexuality, but the measure's main sponsor vows that the legislation will survive largely intact.

"We have no doubt whatsoever this bill will be passed," said David Bahati, a parliamentarian who belongs to the governing party of President Yoweri Museveni. "On the home ground we have massive, massive support."

The bill, proposed in October, would vastly expand an existing law banning sex between people of the same gender. Among other punishments, it provides for the death penalty for people who engage in homosexual sex with a minor or while infected with HIV. It would also ban the "promotion of homosexuality" and subject parents to up to three years in prison if they know their children are having gay sex and fail to inform authorities.

The proposed measure has created an uproar among human-rights activists and those who work with AIDS victims. Advocates for people with AIDS argue that it would prevent many from seeking treatment and imperil medical workers who help them. Several European nations condemned the law. Sweden took it a step further, saying it would reconsider development aid to Uganda if it passes.

The U.S. adopted a low-key approach initially, preferring to lobby against the measure in private meetings with Ugandan authorities. In October, the senior U.S. State Department official on Africa, Johnnie Carson, along with a phalanx of other top U.S. officials, met with President Museveni and expressed concern.

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