Posted: January 8th, 2010 | By Claire Keeton

Protestors standing up for gay rights in Uganda

Protestors standing up for gay rights in Uganda

Today the HIV Clinicians Society of Southern Africa added its voice to a powerful lobby against the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.

The bill, submitted last October, proposes the death penalty for some “homosexual acts”, while other acts incur a steep penalties up to life imprisonment.

In an open letter to the Parliament of Uganda, the society’s president Dr Francois Venter, said its 16 000 members were gravely concerned at the 2009 bill.

“Our concern regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Bill stems from the fact that it proposes draconian measures which will further criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults.

“We are particularly concerned that the Bill proposes the introduction of the death penalty for, inter alia, people living with HIV who engage in same-sex sexual activities.”

“Encouraging openness and combating stigma are widely recognized as key components of Uganda’s successful campaign to reduce HIV infection,” said Venter, warning that the bill threatened to have a “profoundly negative impact on Uganda’s efforts to combat HIV”.

Addressed to the speaker of Parliament and CC’d to President Yowera Kaguta Museveni, the letter called on all MPs “committed to public health and human rights” to stop the bill being passed in any form.

Meanwhile AFP reported today that Ugandan Investment Minister, Aston Kajara, opposed the bill and said the country had enough legislation against homosexuality.

“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,” Kajara told AFP.

But the Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo said Kajara was not representing the government. AFP reports that Buturo is “a staunch supporter of the bill”.

The death penalty could be imposed for “aggravated homosexuality” – applicable in cases of rape of a minor by a person of the same sex, or where one partner is HIV positive, AFP stated.

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