- Uganda’s minister for Investment, Aston Kajara has said the country will review the proposed anti gay bill which has drawn international criticism from rights groups for its tough punishment.
The minister said the country fears backlash from foreign investors over the bill further indicating that it would tarnish the country’s image.
The proposed bill states that anyone convicted of a homosexual act including touching someone of the same sex with the intent of committing a homosexual act would face life in prison.
Gay rights activists had said the bill promotes hatred and could set back efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the conservative East African country.
President Yoweri Museveni has reportedly told colleagues that he believes the bill is too harsh and has encouraged the ruling party to overturn the death sentence provision, which would apply to sexually active gays living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape.
Ruling-party spokeswoman Mary Karoro Okurut said she agreed with the president that some punishments in the bill should be dropped. She said she would still push for a modified version of the bill when it goes to parliament in late February or early March.
Homosexuality "is not allowed in African culture," she said. "We have to protect the children in schools who are being recruited into homosexual activities."
In October, the Ugandan Clergy appealed to the government to scrape the death penalty in the Anti-homosexuality Bill 2009 and rather opt life imprisonment.
The Clergy from dominant religious groups in the country said killing homosexuals does not serve the purpose of signaling the wrong doing, but the government should rather leave them to rot in jail.
Once the bill is passed into law, anyone found practicing homosexuality will face 14 years in prison whereas those found guilty of operating brothels where homosexuals meet will also be liable to 14 years imprisonment.
The offenders would face death for having sex with a minor or a disabled person, or for infecting their partners with HIV.
Pressure has been mounting from outside the continent for the past two years to introduce the same rights for homosexuals. There are more than 500,000 homosexuals in Uganda in a country of 30 million.
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