News / Africa

Fate of Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill Uncertain

A woman holding a placard as she takes part in an anti-gay demonstration in Jinja, Kampala, (File)
A woman holding a placard as she takes part in an anti-gay demonstration in Jinja, Kampala, (File)

Some lawmakers and activists in Uganda say voting on controversial anti-homosexuality bill has been postponed.

Speaker of the Parliament Edward Ssekandi adjourned parliament Friday, saying there was not enough time to start debate on the bill.  The current legislative session ends Wednesday.

The bill calls for mandatory death sentences for some homosexual acts and has drawn condemnation from the United States and various human rights groups.  U.S. President Barack Obama has described it as "odious."

The author of the bill said earlier this week that a new version of the bill would not contain the death penalty.  But no amended version was released.  

The human rights group Avaaz said parliament’s refusal to take up the measure was a victory for all Ugandans.

On Thursday, the group Human Rights Watch warned that a Ugandan parliamentary committee was recommending the passage of the anti-homosexuality bill.  The international rights group also said the committee recommends adding criminal penalties for involvement in a same sex marriage.

A Ugandan gay rights activist who spoke out against the bill was murdered in January.  But Ugandan officials say the killing had nothing to do with his campaign against the legislation.

Activist David Kato had been the target of death threats since a Ugandan tabloid featured him on a list of what it called the country's top homosexuals.

Uganda is widely regarded as an oppressive environment or gays.  Homosexuality is currently punishable by life in prison.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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