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04/19/2007


Uganda 'Kill the Gays' Bill Will Include Death Penalty Provision;
Obama, Grassley, Coburn, Feingold, Vatican Speak Out

An article appearing in The Guardian over the weekend reports that the death penalty and life imprisonment provisions in Uganda's "kill the gays" bill as it has come to be known, have not been dropped, as Bloomberg reported last week.

Bahatie The Guardian spoke with the bill's main sponsor, David Bahati: "Bahati has just presented his anti-homosexuality bill 2009 to Uganda's parliament. The bill, which will be debated within a fortnight and is expected to become law by February, will allow homosexuality to be punishable by death...He denied reports that international pressure might result in parts of the bill being toned down. 'We are not going to yield to any international pressure – we cannot allow people to play with the future of our children and put aid into the game. We are not in the trade of values. We need mutual respect.'"

The White House finally took a public stand on the "kill the gays" bill, late on Friday afternoon and only after prodding from The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld.

Said the statement: "The president strongly opposes efforts, such as the draft law pending in Uganda, that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history."

Grassley Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, under pressure from groups like One Iowa, which began a petition urging the legislator to speak out, finally spoke out in a statement to the Iowa Independent.

Said Grassley: "Based on what I’ve been able to learn about the legislation and from the stand point that I’m a born again Christian, I can tell you that I don’t agree with this un-Christian and unjust  proposal, and I hope the Ugandan officials dismiss it."

GOP Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has spoken out as well: “Over the past two decades, political, religious, and community leaders in Uganda have united to promote a rare, winning strategy against HIV that addresses the unique and common risks of every segment of society. Sadly, some who oppose Uganda’s common sense ABC strategy are using an absurd proposal to execute gays to undermine this coalition and winning strategy. Officials in Uganda should come to their senses and take whatever steps are necessary to withdraw this proposal that will do nothing but harm a winning strategy that is saving lives.”

Feingold And Wisconsin Senator and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs Russ Feingold released a statement.

Said Feingold: "I share the outrage of many political, religious and civic leaders in Uganda and around the world about the “anti-homosexuality bill” before the Ugandan Parliament.  If enacted, this inhumane bill would sanction new levels of violence against people in Uganda based solely on their gender or sexual orientation.  Its passage would hurt the close working relationship between our two countries, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Over the last month, I have conveyed these concerns to the State Department and directly to President Museveni, and I urge Uganda’s leaders to reject this bill."

Ugandamap Finally, The Vatican released a curiously timed statement which did not mention Uganda directly but appears to address the situation there:

"As stated during the debate of the General Assembly last year, the Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person. As raised by some of the panelists today, the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State. While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth."


Sen. Grassley Says He's Unaware of Uganda 'Kill the Gays' Bill, Denies Ties to Christian Conservative Political Group 'The Family'

Under pressure to denounce the Uganda "kill the gays" bill (which was recently reportedly revised to drop the death penalty and life imprisonment elements), Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley told the Iowa Independent that he's looking into it.

Grassley Said Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine: “Subsequent to inquiries like yours this week, [Sen. Grassley’s] office contacted the U.S. State Department to get more information. The office was told that the administration hasn’t made an official statement, but an assistant secretary has privately relayed concerns to the Ugandan president.”

Grassley also denies any current ties to 'The Family': "Investigative journalist Jeff Sharlet, who has written a book about the group, said Grassley has been involved with the secret fellowship of Christian politicians since the 1980s and has been active in African affairs on the group’s behalf. Levin said Grassley has not been in contact with 'The Family' on this or any other issue and has never lived at or attended a prayer meeting at the group’s townhouse on C Street near the U.S. Capitol. 'He worships at Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, and on the rare occasion he’s in Washington on a weekend, he worships at Woodlawn Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia,' Levin said. She said Grassley hasn’t participated in a Sunday prayer breakfast often associated with 'The Family' in 'probably 10 years,' and when he did it was made up of senators of all faiths and denominations, 'including Protestant, Catholic, Mormon and Jewish.'"


'Family' Member and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley Pressured to Denounce Uganda 'Kill Gays' Bill

Grassley U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is the subject of a petition by gay rights group One Iowa, asking him to denounce the bill currently pending in Uganda that would subject gays and lesbians to lifetime imprisonment or the death sentence.

Writes One Iowa: "The Family, a fundamentalist group of powerful politicians in America and abroad has ties to Uganda legislators pushing this horrific affront to human rights. Our very own Senator Grassley is a member of this so-called 'Family'."

More on that here. See the petition here.


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