(AFP) – Feb 3, 2010
WASHINGTON — US lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday sharply condemning an anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda's parliament, calling it an attack on human rights and an obstacle to battling HIV/AIDS.
"The proposed Ugandan bill not only threatens human rights, it also reverses so many of the gains that Uganda has made in the fight against HIV/AIDS," said House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman, a Democrat.
More than three dozen Representatives co-sponsored the legislation, but just one of them is a Republican, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the party's most senior member on Berman's panel.
The symbolic measure asserts that "all people possess an intrinsic human dignity, regardless of sexual orientation, and share fundamental human rights," and warns the Ugandan bill, if enacted, "would set a troubling precedent."
The US resolution expresses "unequivocal" US opposition and says US aid to fight HIV/AIDS should be spent "in a manner that is efficient, effective, and appropriate to the local epidemiology of the disease, including in Uganda."
Under the US "PEPFAR" program to fight the pandemic, Uganda received nearly 300 million dollars in 2009 for prevention, care, and treatment.
Uganda's proposed bill would impose the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," applicable in cases of rape of a minor by a person of the same sex, or where one partner carries the AIDS virus.
It would also criminalize public discussion of homosexuality and could penalize an individual who knowingly rents property to a homosexual.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, punishable by life imprisonment in some instances. The penal code identifies "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" as an offense.
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