Bill Gates (Pic by Severin Nowacki)

Microsoft founder and HIV/Aids philanthropist Bill Gates has spoken about the draconian anti-gay bill before Uganda’s parliament.

His comments have upset some observers who have criticised him for not highlighting the severity of the proposed legislation which would impose the death penalty on those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality”.

Speaking to The Seattle Times this week, Gates downplayed the Ugandan Bill, saying that, “There’s a tendency to think in the U.S. just because a law says something that it’s a big deal. In Africa if you want to talk about how to save lives, it’s not just laws that count.”

Leading HIV/Aids activists and groups have slammed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill not only because of its human rights contraventions but also because it is feared that it will further drive men who have sex with men underground.

Gates went on to add: “There’s a stigma no matter what that law says, for sex workers, men having sex with men, that’s always been a problem for AIDS. It relates to groups that aren’t that visible. AIDS itself is subject to incredible stigma. Open involvement is a helpful thing. I wouldn’t overly focus on that. In terms of how many people are dying in Africa, it’s not about the law on the books; it’s about getting the message out and the new tools.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a funder of numerous international health and HIV/AIDS projects and Gates and his wife Melinda have donated more than $30 billion to causes around the world.

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