Ugandan author of anti-gay bill will push it forward
But 'the matter is beyond our hands'
A Ugandan lawmaker who proposed a bill that would impose the death penalty on those who have homosexual sex while HIV-positive said he will not withdraw the legislation, despite any government pressure to remove it.
"I stand by the bill," David Bahati said. "I will not withdraw it. We have our children in schools to protect against being recruited into [homosexuality]. The process of legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on."
The bill would would toughen Uganda's already strict laws against homosexuality by imposing a life imprisonment sentence on those found guilty of touching someone of the same sex with the intent of committing a homosexual act.
Current legislation imposes seven years in prison.
Bahati's insistence to go ahead with the proposed bill follow comments from a Ugandan government minister, who said he was going to ask the lawmaker to pull the legislation.
Aston Kajara, Uganda's minister of state for investment, said the bill, which has sparked international criticism, could ignite a backlash from foreign investors and hurt the country’s image.
"Ever since the bill was tabled, there have been a lot of outcries not only here but from all over the world," he said.
"There has been negative publicity on Uganda which is not good for investment. As government, we shall talk to the private member who brought it to parliament and request him to withdraw it."
President Yoweri Museveni has told colleagues he believes the proposed law is too harsh and has encouraged the ruling party to overturn the death sentence provision.
But Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo said there is nothing the government can do directly.
"The matter is beyond our hands and we can’t interfere with the work of parliament," Buturo told Bloomberg News.
Under the new law, the death sentence could apply to sexually active gays living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. The new law also expands its scope to include Ugandans living abroad, who can be extradited and punished.
But Buturo has said the death penalty is likely to be removed.
The bill is set to appear before parliament in late February or early March.
With files from The Associated Press