UGANDA: Bishop supports jail for homosexuals, opposes death
"We want to state categorically that homosexuality is unacceptable," Anglican Bishop Stanley Ntagali of Masindi-Kitara diocese told Ecumenical News International in an interview.
The Ugandan parliament is currently discussing a proposed law which allows the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" involving assault against people under the age of 18 or those with disabilities.
"I think the death penalty is not acceptable," Ntagali said on October 21. "I think taking someone to jail for a period of time would be sufficient."
Homosexual acts are already a criminal offence in Uganda, with the maximum penalty being life imprisonment.
The new measure, introduced by lawmaker David Bahati, proposes a seven-year jail term for anyone who "attempts to commit the offence" or who "aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality."
If passed, the law would also punish the publishing of information, the provision of funds or premises for homosexual activities with a seven-year jail sentence or a fine of US$50,000, the PlusNews service reported.
Ntagali said the church views those involved in homosexuality as sinners who can repent and reform. "We have to be a moral fiber of the society," he stated.
The draft law says it aims to "protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex."
Beatrice Were, a Ugandan HIV/AIDS activist, said the measure would push homosexuals further underground.
"Our national strategic plan for HIV/AIDS aims to achieve universal prevention, treatment and care. If people are criminalized and not allowed to exist, how they can access these services," the Integrated Regional Information Networks quoted Were as saying.
United States-based Human Rights Watch has said that in recent months, "There has been increased campaigning against homosexuality in Uganda, led by churches and anti-gay groups."
In an October 15 statement, Human Rights Watch said people suspected of being gay have faced death threats and been physically assaulted. Many of them have been ostracised by their families or faced discrimination, including dismissal from their place of employment.» Respond to this article