APRIL 16, 2010: Asked by U.S Senate to Withdraw 'Gay' Bill

Asked by U.S Senate to Withdraw 'Gay' Bill
SOURCE: The Monitor
By Emmanuel Gyezaho
The US Senate has passed a resolution imploring Ugandan Members of Parliament to withdraw a private member's Bill that would impose death on gay people.

But will the resolution influence Ugandan MPs currently considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009? Speaker Edward Ssekandi said yesterday that the resolution, passed Tuesday night, will not force Parliament to give in to western pressure and withdraw Ndorwa West MP David Bahati's controversial Bill.

He told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview that there was no possibility of Parliament "totally rejecting" the proposed law.

"Those against the Bill are entitled to their views," said Mr Ssekandi, "But what they should do is sensitise our people about the merits or demerits of the Bill."

He added: "The resolution may influence us but there is no procedure [currently available] that we can take of totally rejecting the Bill."

International gay rights activists have lauded the Senate, the upper House of the bicameral U.S Congress, for joining the chorus of those cautioning Uganda, and said the resolution expresses the U.S government's unequivocal opposition to the proposed Bill.

Mr Ssekandi said the Senate "may be right or wrong", but that is a decision the Uganda Parliament would have to make.

Mr Bahati said yesterday that he would not waiver in his pursuit for the Bill's enactment despite the amount of condemnation his proposed law has generated.

He suggested, however, that powerful gay lobbyists in the U.S had influenced the Senate's decision.

"It is a pity that people who should be defenders of democracy are trying to interfere in a democratic process here debating the dangers [of homosexuality] affecting our children," said the MP.

Although he offered no evidence to back the claim, the MP said he was "confident" that Parliament would not "entertain that kind of double standards."

U.S President Barack Obama has already condemned the Bill- famously describing the proposed legislation as "odious" in February, while President Museveni also distanced himself from the new law, urging MPs to tread carefully.

The Bill, introduced in October last year, seeks to toughen laws against homosexuality by putting to death gays who have previous convictions, are HIV-positive or engage in homosexual sex with minors, and hands down a three year jail sentence to Ugandans who fail to report homosexual activity.