Uganda has reportedly dropped the death penalty from its notorious anti-homosexuality bill.
Member of Parliament Medard Segona told the BBC that ‘substantial amendments’ had been made to the ‘Kill The Gays’ bill but refused to give any more details.
According to the unconfirmed report, politicians have, nevertheless, endorsed the legislation which was yesterday (22 November) added to the parliament’s schedule of debate.
Segona claims that could happen within weeks after speaker Rebecca Kadaga announced they would push through the bill as a ‘Christmas present’.
The proposed law was rumored to have been amended before but versions in the public eye and sources within the country maintained that the death sentence could still be applied in some circumstances.
The law will broaden the criminalization of same-sex relationships by dividing homosexuality into two categories; aggravated homosexuality and the offense of homosexuality.
‘Aggravated homosexuality’ is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. If convicted, they will face the death penalty.
The ‘offense of homosexuality’ includes same-sex sexual acts or being in a gay relationship, and will be prosecuted by life imprisonment.
Originally put to government in 2009, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill had been temporarily shelved because of international criticism.
Several European countries have threatened to cut aid to Uganda if it passes, with the UK government warning Uganda it would face severe reductions in financial help.
US President Barack Obama has described it as ‘odious’, and Canadian politician John Baird has said it is ‘vile, abhorrent, and offends decency’.
Uganda lawmaker Atim Ogwal Cecilia Barbara has even suggested there should be a continent-wide ban on homosexuality, saying all African gay people should be jailed for life.
Gay rights activist David Kato was murdered in Uganda in January 2011 shortly after a local newspaper published images of him and other gay people under a headline urging readers to ‘hang them.’
Despite this, Uganda’s LGBT community held a weekend of gay pride events this summer.
According to a 2010 survey by The Pew Research Center, homosexuality is morally unacceptable to 89% of Ugandans.