Uganda government softens propsed anti-gay law

Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:55pm GMT

By Elias Biryabarema

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda will soften its proposed anti-gay legislation, but the government denied on Wednesday that it was bowing to an outcry in the West over a controversial bill that could have seen homosexuals put to death.

Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo told Reuters that the revised law would now probably limit the maximum penalty for offenders to life in prison rather than execution.

"There have been a lot of discussions in government ... regarding the proposed law, but we now think a life sentence could be better because it gives room for offenders to be rehabilitated," he said in an interview.

"Killing them might not be helpful."

Uganda, long a darling of donors for its stable economy and widespread economic reforms, has come under intense pressure from Western nations to ease its anti-gay stance.

Under the original proposal "serial offenders", and those who commit "aggravated homosexuality", faced a death sentence.

Now the east African nation appears to have heeded condemnation from Western governments as well as international Christian and community leaders.

Buturo denied the change in government attitude had been forced by Western censure. "It's really out of our consultation with various groups, including religious leaders. It has nothing to do with external forces," he said.   Continued...

<p>Members of religious groups campaigning against homosexuality hold placards during a rally in Kampala, August 21, 2007. REUTERS/James Akena</p>
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.