Foreign secretary William Hague says that the UK is continuing to urge Uganda not to pass a bill that could see gay people executed.
Responding to questions on Twitter, Mr Hague wrote: “We oppose this bill and will continue to raise our concerns with Ugandan government. We urge Ugandan MPs to reject it.”
He continued: “Our embassy is lobbying Ugandan gov & the UK initiated a formal EU demarche [diplomatic move] to the Ugandan foreign minister on the bill.”
The bill has spent two days before a parliamentary committee and is due for a second reading tomorrow, if parliament has time to discuss it. Tomorrow is the last scheduled day of parliament and it is listed on an order paper of following business.
In its current form, the bill prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated” homosexuality, such as repeat offences. Among other things, it also calls for up to three years in prison for teachers, doctors, friends, landlords and family members of gay people who do not report them to authorities.
Reports this afternoon suggested that some aspects of the bill may have been modified. Anti-gay pastor Martin Ssempa claimed today that he did not want gay people to be executed.
US blogger Jim Burroway, the author of the Box Turtle Bulletin blog, who has been following events closely, claimed MPs could pass the bill to divert attention from Uganda’s current problems, which include unrest over rising food and fuel prices.
He wrote: “Clearly, passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is very popular among ordinary Ugandans, would be a cynical diversionary ploy on the part of the government.
“If the bill does come up for a second reading, that is when amendments to the bill may be offered. A third reading can quickly follow a second reading, at which time the bill would be passed and sent to the president.
“The president can assent to the bill or return it to parliament for changes. According to one parliament member, the president has not returned a bill to parliament during his term.”
Campaigners are calling on as many people as possible to sign petitions to ask President Yoweri Museveni not to accept the bill.