Ugandan ministers contest anti-gay bill

A senior Ugandan minister on Friday came out against a proposed new law calling for punishment up to the death penalty for gays which has faced international condemnation.

Uganda’s Minister of State for Investment, Aston Kajara, said the bill, which has sparked international criticism, could ignite a backlash from foreign investors and hurts the country’s image.

"The government's position is that the existing provisions in our penal code against homosexuality are strong enough and that this new bill is not necessary," Aston Kajara, the state minister for investments, told AFP. "The penal code already sufficiently covers this issue," he added.

President Yoweri Museveni has told colleagues he believes the proposed law is too harsh and has encouraged the ruling party to overturn the death sentence provision.

With the cabinet still to discuss the bill formally, Information Minister Kabakumba Matsiko stressed that the government had not yet decided whether or not to back it.

Mr Kajara's comments are believed to be the first public sign that some members of the government may not support the bill.

The bill submitted last October, which would impose the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," including by those who are HIV positive, sparked international condemnation and prompted threats to cut aid to Uganda.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda punishable by terms of imprisonment of up to life.

Photo: riekhavoc

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