Uganda's "kill the gays" bill shelved again

Fri May 13, 2011 5:55pm GMT
 

By Barry Malone

KAMPALA (Reuters) - A Ugandan bill that mandated the death penalty for gays who are "repeat offenders" appeared to have been shelved again on Friday when it was not debated in parliament after provoking an international outcry.

Parliament speaker Edward Ssekandi dissolved the house on Friday and said there was not enough time to debate the bill. A new parliament is to be sworn in on Wednesday.

"I think we expected that this would happen," an lawmaker who did not want to be named, told Reuters. "The pressure had been too much over the last two years. It had to disappear."

The bill was also due for a hearing on Wednesday but did not appear on the order paper that day either.

Uganda's anti-gay movement won notoriety when the legislation was originally introduced in 2009.

U.S. President Barack Obama denounced it as "odious" and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to express her strong concerns.

It was quietly shelved under such pressure but activists feared it would be passed after Museveni's February election victory. But the bill now appears to have been mothballed again after foreign activists increased campaigning this week, fearing it would be pushed through at the last minute.

"This was a dangerous bill and there is a lot of tension and riots in the country," Ugandan gay rights campaigner Bishop Christopher Senyonjo said after the parliamentary session ended.   Continued...

<p>Ugandan anti-gay activist Canon Gideon Byamugisha displays a copy of the petition rejecting homosexuality in Kampala March 1, 2010. REUTERS/James Akena</p>
 
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