KAMPALA, May 13 – Ugandan lawmakers were due to discuss Friday a controversial bill which would introduce the death penalty for some homosexual acts, despite widespread international criticism.
"I think they will discuss it today because it is on the order paper," Helen Kawesa, a spokeswoman for the parliament in Kampala, told AFP.
Kawesa said that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was the last item on the schedule but that the speaker could decide to move it forward and that it was likely that it would be discussed.
The bill, which was first introduced in 2009, has been the subject of increasing international condemnation.
The United States on Thursday described the legislation as "odious" and called on lawmakers to reject it.
"No amendments, no changes would justify the passage of this odious bill," US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International\’s deputy director for Africa, said earlier this week that it was "deeply alarming that the Ugandan parliament is again considering this appalling bill, which flies in the face of human decency and violates international human rights law".
The bill calls for the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality", that is in cases of rape of a minor by a person of the same sex, or where one partner carries the virus that can cause AIDS.
The bill also proposes to criminalise public discussion of homosexuality and would penalise an individual who knowingly rents property to a homosexual.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, punishable by life imprisonment in some instances.
Parliament\’s current session ends on Wednesday but since Monday and Tuesday will be given over to the swearing in of new parliamentarians, officials said Friday is effectively the last day the bill can be discussed before the recess