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Ugandan MPs reportedly want closed anti-gay-bill debate

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Uganda's Observer reports that some lawmakers are considering a plan to lobby House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to hold a closed session of debate on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for "fear of retribution from Western interests."

"This subject is very sensitive and some of us fear that if it is discussed in public view, we will be persecuted for holding particular views," National Youth MP Monica Amoding told The Observer.

According to the report, another MP who requested anonymity also feared that "supporting the bill publicly could lead to being blacklisted." The MP pointed to MP David Bahati, the bill's primary sponsor, saying he has been "ostracised by some elements in the West because of his views." 

Since its introduction by Bahati in 2009, the measure, also known as the Kill the Gays bill, has faced persistent global condemnation. The bill has been yo-yoing up and down the parliamentary order paper for months without debate, even as Kadaga and other MPs have publicly and repeatedly emphasized that they are determined to pass the measure. 

The Observer indicates that it spoke to approximately 40 lawmakers who say their constituents support the draft law, which reportedly still includes the death penalty.

Addressing the threat that Uganda will cease to receive aid from various
countries if the bill becomes law, Bahati says his country "will never
exchange our dignity with the money from abroad." 

Kadaga has been at the forefront of renewed efforts to push through the bill after a verbal clash with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
in Quebec City, even as Uganda's Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has expressed
his own reservations
about the legislation's content, noting that homosexuality is already unlawful in the country.

the extent that it is unlawful, and the attempt in this bill to repeat
what is already unlawful, is not something we’ll support, supporting
what is already in the bill. Why? Why would we support it? Because it’s
already covered." 

Still, he says, there are aspects that are "new," like "promotion of homosexuality," that need to be debated.

Meanwhile, Gay Star News reports that an anti-gay march, led by two Ugandan pastors, took place near slain gay rights activist David Kato's burial place and home in the village of Mukono over the Easter weekend. 

According to the report, pastor Solomon Male alleged that Kato’s grave is a site where "foreigners" come and pay "pilgrimage to homosexuality." 

But some in the crowd reportedly countered Male's assertions, saying, "You say homosexuals are given money to recruit people, but are you also given money to come here?"

Gay Star News says Male was recently found guilty in a Uganda court for falsely accusing a priest of male rape and was fined and sentenced to community service.

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