May 10, 2011
Monday marked the second day of hearings by a Ugandan parliament committee on an anti-gay bill that has been condemned worldwide. The measure originally called for the death penalty for active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. Critics, including retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, said the bill could increase the spread of HIV/AIDS, since gay Ugandans would fear seeking treatment, and could turn the country into a police state. Under the measure, anyone who "aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality" would face seven years in prison. Landlords who rent out residences to gays could also receive seven years. The bill's author, David Bahati, said the death penalty provision is "something we have moved away from," and that a new version would likely be presented before a final vote, possibly this week. Some, all or none of these provisions could change during parliamentary negotiations, say lawmakers. Activists say the bill's introduction has stoked the already deep, widespread anti-gay sentiment in Uganda.