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Uganda anti gay law to be re-introduced in parliament

Members of Uganda's gay community and gay rights activists/AFP

Members of Uganda’s gay community and gay rights activists/AFP

KAMPALA, August 12 – Ugandan lawmakers will vote on reinstating a severe anti-gay law just weeks after it was scrapped by the country’s constitutional court, the parliamentary speaker said on Tuesday.

The six month old law had meant that homosexuals could be jailed for life. It was popular domestically, but was branded draconian and “abominable” by rights groups and was overturned on a technicality by the constitutional court on August 1.

Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga said she expected the bill would be re-introduced when it returns from its summer break, probably later this month.

“There is enthusiasm among the members of parliament. Over 200 members have signed the petition to re table it,” Kadaga told AFP on Tuesday.

“By these numbers it is a sign it will be passed overwhelmingly,” she added.

The new petition also calls for the process to be sped up, bypassing normal parliamentary rules that require the law to be reintroduced from scratch — a potentially lengthy process.

The legislation, signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, also outlawed the promotion of homosexuality and obliged Ugandans to denounce gays to the authorities.

Judges ruled it had been passed in December without the necessary quorum of lawmakers in parliament.

Homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda and punishable by a jail sentence, even without the tough new law.

Uganda’s attorney general said last week that an appeal against the constitutional court ruling had also been lodged at the Supreme Court.

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has likened the law to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany, and Western nations have frozen or redirected millions of dollars of government aid in response.

Critics have accused Museveni of drumming up homophobia to boost his support ahead of a presidential election scheduled for 2016, which will be his 30th year in power.


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