There are reportedly behind the scenes efforts to convince the Ugandan government to abandon its notorious anti-gay bill.

The Observer reports that United Nations AIDS envoy, Elizabeth Mataka has met Ugandan officials including David Bahati, the MP who tabled the bill, in Kampala this week.

Mataka was in the capital to mark World AIDS day but it is understood that she attempted to illustrate how the bill, by further criminalising homosexuality, would negatively affect the country’s struggle against the HIV/AIDS virus.

Uganda has in the past been lauded for its effective strategies in combating the epidemic.

There have also been reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is the symbolic head of the global Anglican Communion, has been in “private” discussions with the Ugandan Anglican Church about the bill.

While Williams has been criticised in the UK for not taking a public stand on the matter, a statement from the Church sent to The Times said: “It has been made clear to us, as indeed to others, that attempts to publicly influence either the local church or political opinion in Uganda would be divisive and counter-productive.

“Our contacts, at both national and diocesan level, with the local church will therefore remain intensive but private.”

According to The Guardian, a leading member of the Ugandan Anglican Church, Canon Gideon Byamugisha, has come out against the proposed anti-gay legislation.

Byamugisha described the bill as “state-legislated genocide” and said that Williams should speak out against it: “The gay Christians in Uganda are asking for him to speak out publicly, the gay Christians in this country are asking him to…”

He added that, “The fear is that the Church of England’s silence has more to do with fears of causing another split in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality. It would be tragic if the Archbishop remains silent for the sake of political reasons.”

Meanwhile, Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden’s development assistance minister, has said that the Swedish government would cut aid to Uganda if it passes the “appalling” bill. The country contributes around $50 million in development aid to Uganda every year.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which is before the Ugandan parliament, would retain the current life sentence for homosexuality, would impose the death penalty for those who have gay sex with disabled and HIV positive people and would ban any expression of support for gays and lesbians.

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