Civil rights activists delivered a petition containing almost half a million signatures to Uganda’s parliament today in protest over the country’s anti-homosexuality bill.

The online petition was organised by campaign group Avaaz, which hopes to eventually garner one million signatures.

It was delivered to Uganda’s parliament in Kampala this morning by a delegation led by Anglican priest Canon Gideon Byamugisha.

The petition was accompanied by a letter asking parliament to reject the controversial bill and instead pass legislation to protect gay people.

The Daily Monitor reports that the Speaker of Parliament Edward Sekandi promised the delegation he would refer the petition to a committee for scrutiny.

If passed, the legislation will impose the death penalty on those who have homosexual sex with a minor, disabled person, while infected with AIDS.

The death penalty would also be imposed on repeat offenders, while others convicted for having gay sex would be jailed for life, instead of the current 14-year term.

Those who fail to report homosexual activity, such as relatives, teachers, landlords or health workers, would also face prison sentences.

The bill is now before parliament and awaiting debate.

Pressure has been building on Uganda to reject it in the past few months and world leaders such as US president Barack Obama and UK prime minister Gordon Brown have urged Ugandan leaders to withdraw it.