There are conflicting reports on the status of the Anti Homosexuality Bill’s progress through the parliamentary process in Uganda.
On Monday, the Washington Blade reported that Victoria Nuland, a US State Department spokesperson, told journalists that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson had met with high-profile leaders, including President Museveni, in Uganda over the weekend to discuss the bill.
“As we have regularly said, we call on the parliament of Uganda to look very carefully at this because Uganda’s own Human Rights Council has made clear that if this were to pass, it would put the country out of compliance with its own international human rights obligations,” Nuland said.
“And so, Assistant Secretary Carson had a chance to make that point again and our strong opposition to this, to the president, to the parliament and to key decision makers in Uganda.”
Nuland also said that the bill had been processed by the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee and that the bill was now ready to be voted on.
There have been reports from Uganda that the committee removed the death penalty clauses in favour of life imprisonment in certain instance of “aggravated homosexuality,” such as when someone is convicted of repeated “offences”.
On Tuesday, however, the Washington Blade said that an un-named “informed source at the US Embassy in Kampala” denied the previous report and insisted that the bill was in fact still being considered by the committee.
The source also said that the committee can only make recommendations about legislation and cannot remove any provisions from the bill, including the death penalty.
Nuland later confirmed that her earlier statement that the bill had passed through the committee was “incorrect”.
Meanwhile, an Avaaz petition calling on President Museveni to reject the Anti Homosexuality Bill has been signed by almost one million people since it was created on 22 November.
Another petition on Change.org, calling on Citibank and Barclays – who do significant business in Uganda – to condemn the bill has been signed by almost half a million people.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has promised to pass the bill before the end of the year as “a Christmas gift” to anti-gay groups in Uganda.