30 April 2010

Uganda: Cultural Leaders Request Legislators to Pass Gays Bill

Cultural leaders in the country have, for the first time, spoken out on the contentious Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, urging the MPs to pass it in order to safeguard the country's values and traditions.

Under their umbrella body, 'Forum for Kings and Cultural Leaders in Uganda,' the custodians of culture expressed anger with the way western countries have put the government on pressure to throw out the Bill.

They said the MPs must be left to make laws consistent with Uganda's cultures and collective aspirations. They also asked the government to resist such 'outside' pressures and strive to protect the traditions of the country.

In a press statement issued yesterday, the leaders said: "We note with alarm how western governments and their agencies are aggressively pushing for the legitimisation of homosexuality which to us is not a human right, but a human vice."

Some foreign governments criticised Uganda over the proposed law among them the US President Barrack Obama who called it 'odious.' Sweden too threatened to cut aid to Uganda.

And in a recent UK publication, British authorities were reported to be in a process of banning the initiator of the Bill, Ndorwa East MP David Bahati, from visiting the UK if the Bill became law.

But in the statement signed by the Omukama Rukirabasaija Solomon Gafabusa of Bunyoro, the kings say homosexuality breaks the laws of nature, faith, the Constitution and the laws of culture and traditions.

"We call on the government to stand strong in the face of external forces of homosexual aggression and faith leaders should preach against it as musicians use their talents to protect children from the vice."

The kings' move, which comes amid debate on whether the government should own or disown the private member's Bill, currently before the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, will give Mr Bahati more morale for his fight against homosexuality.

Mr Bahati, in a phone interview yesterday, welcomed efforts of the traditional leaders, saying "because at the end of the day, homosexuality is a danger to the culture that they are charged with protecting."

The Bill proposes punitive action against same sex marriages and life imprisonment for homosexuals.

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