UN rights boss urges Uganda to shelve anti-gay bill

Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:22pm GMT

KAMPALA (Reuters) - A Ugandan preacher said on Friday he planned a "million-man" march to support an anti-gay draft law which the United Nations top human rights official called "blatantly discriminatory".

Pastor Martin Ssempa, who has close ties to U.S. evangelicals and President Yoweri Museveni's family, said the march was being organised for February 17.

"We want to show how many people support the bill," Pastor Martin Ssempa told journalists in the Ugandan capital.

"We want to give a postcard that (Museveni) can send to his friend (U.S. President) Barack Obama," Ssempa said in front of posters saying "Africans Unite Against Sodomy" and "Barack Obama Back Off".

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, added to Western criticism of the proposed legislation by saying it breached international standards. She called on Uganda to shelve it.

"The bill proposes draconian punishments for people alleged to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered -- namely life imprisonment, or in some cases, the death penalty," Pillay said in a statement.

Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo has said a revised law would now probably limit the maximum penalty to life in prison rather than execution. The private members' bill was tabled in parliament last year.


The draft legislation would prohibit any form of sexual relations between people of the same sex as well as the recognition of homosexual relations as an acceptable lifestyle, Pillay said.   Continued...

<p>Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni waves upon his arrival at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arusha May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna</p>
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