Ugandan parliament passes anti-gay bill

Ugandan parliament passes anti-gay bill
Ugandan parliament passes anti-gay bill

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - KAMPALA — Uganda's parliament has passed a bill that would criminalize people who identify as gay.

Individuals could face lengthy prison terms if the bill is signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni.

Under the proposed legislation, friends, family and members of the community would have a duty to report individuals in same-sex relationships to the authorities.

Homosexual acts are already illegal in the east African country.

But the bill seeks to go further and criminalize people on the basis of their sexual identity.

The bill, which was first tabled earlier this month, passed with widespread support in Uganda's parliament on Tuesday.

It will now go to President Museveni who can choose to use his veto - and maintain good relations with Western donors and investors - or sign it into law.

The bill also stipulates that a person who is convicted of grooming or trafficking children for the purposes of engaging them in homosexual activities faces life in prison.

Individuals or institutions which support or fund LGBT rights' activities or organizations, or publish, broadcast and distribute pro-gay media material and literature, also face prosecution and imprisonment.

A small group of Ugandan MPs on a committee scrutinizing the bill disagreed with its premise. They argue the offenses it seeks to criminalize are already covered in the country's Penal Code Act.

In 2014, Uganda's constitutional court nullified a similar act that had toughened laws against the LGBT community.

It included making it illegal to promote and fund LGBT groups and activities, as well as reiterating that homosexual acts should be punished by life imprisonment.

The court ruled that the legislation be revoked because it had been passed by parliament without the required quorum. The law had been widely condemned by Western countries.

Same-sex relations are banned in about 30 African countries, where many people uphold conservative religious and social values. — BBC

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