Senate resolution calls on Uganda to dump anti-gay bill

Mon. March 22, 2010 12:00 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Washington, DC - A key Senate committee is preparing to debate a resolution that would urge Ugandan lawmakers to dump a controversial anti-gay bill.

Nineteen lawmakers, including Republican Senators Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Susan Collins of Maine, have signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution since Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's February introduction.

Feingold's resolution calls on members of the Parliament of Uganda to reject a bill that includes a death penalty provision for people who repeatedly engage in gay sex and those who are HIV-positive. The bill also bans the "promotion of homosexuality," which would effectively outlaw political organizations, broadcasters and publishers that advocate on behalf of gay rights.

The bill's tangled language could allow straight folks to be put to death, as well. The death penalty provision applies to anyone who is found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality," a term used to describe a repeat offender. Those offenses include failing to report to officials knowledge of a person who is gay. Therefore, a person does not need to engage in gay sex to bring the death penalty to bear.

While a scheduled March 23 meeting in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which includes the resolution on its agenda has been postponed, Federick Jones, a spokesman for the committee, assured On Top Magazine in an email that the meeting will take place later in the week.

A similar House resolution also introduced in February might receive its first outing during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on US policy in Africa scheduled for Wednesday. The committee is chaired by California Representative Howard L. Berman, the resolution's primary sponsor.

Berman's resolution has attracted 58 co-sponsors, including openly gay representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of Colorado.

Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama criticized the proposal at the National Prayer Breakfast in February. Obama described the measure as "odious."

In addition to urging the Uganda Parliament to reject the anti-gay bill, the resolution also "urges all countries around the world to reject and repeal similar laws that criminalize homosexuality, and encourages the United States Department of State to closely monitor human rights abuses that occur because of sexual orientation."

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine