United States officials in Uganda have said that the Ugandan anti-gay legislation, dubbed ‘kill the gays’ could still contain the death penalty despite earlier claims that it had been reduced to life imprisonment.
The claims were first made in an email to the Washington Blade from an unnamed official in the US embassy in Uganda and have effectively been verified in an official statement by the US State Department.
The email to the newspaper said that the bill has not been amended by the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee as had been claimed by a Ugandan MP last Friday. The source said that the committee had no ability to amend the legislation before it reaches the Ugandan Parliament.
The original draft of the legislation includes a provision for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, defined as someone with HIV engaging in homosexual acts, sex with a minor or repeated offenses of homosexuality.
Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokesperson told the Washington Blade: “As with all domestic legislation, it’s up to the Ugandan Parliament to determine whether or not to move forward with a bill. The bill is currently in committee and has not yet reached the full parliament for consideration.”
Thompson also told a press briefing that: “The United States shares the concerns of several members of Uganda’s civil society and the Ugandan government’s own human rights commission, which determined the anti-homosexuality bill violates both Uganda’s constitution and its obligations under international law,” Thompson said. “Beyond that, we have serious concerns about the negative impact of the bill on public health interests in Uganda, including our concerns that it would undercut Uganda’s ability to fight HIV/AIDS infection and the spread of HIV/AIDS.”
Thompson added: “We just note that as President Obama said in reference to the same anti-homosexuality bill and his comments during the National Prayer Breakfast, it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are.”
On Monday, Mike Freer, an openly gay British Conservative MP said that the British Government should stop giving aid to Uganda if it passes anti-gay legislation. A Conservative MEP, Marina Yannakoudakis said that the European Union must also stop aid to the country if it goes ahead with homophobic legislation.