Church of Uganda Recommends Amendments to Anti-Gay Bill

The (Anglican) Church of Uganda has released a statement calling for amendments to the country's anti-homosexuality bill, which currently proposes the death penalty for some forms of the behavior.

Addressing what they called "loopholes" in the legislation, the church made calls for greater protection under law for male children from homosexuality, the assurance that homosexuality will not become a human right in the country, and changes in the reporting law that "protects the confidentiality of medical, pastoral and counseling relationships."

Under the current bill, those convicted of failing to report homosexual behavior could face up to three years in prison.

Other punishments include a life in prison sentence for any homosexual behavior and the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" where one or more participant is a "serial offender," HIV-positive, a minor, or a disabled person.

"We affirm the necessity of appropriate amendments within the existing legislation and corresponding Penal Code sections," the group's statement read.

"The Church of Uganda, being a part of the Anglican Communion, reiterates her position on human sexuality and her desire to uphold the pastoral position of providing love and care for all God's people caught up in any sin and remaining consistent with Holy Scriptures of the Christian Church."

Introduced by Ugandan minister David Bahati in October 2009, the country's anti-homosexuality bill has received widespread condemnation from the international community, including President Obama, who recently called the legislation "odious" in his address at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has also distanced himself from the bill, saying it does not represent the views of the government.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who was criticized for his silence on the issue, spoke out against the legislation during his Presidential Address at the Church of England's General Synod on Tuesday.

"The rights and dignities of gay and lesbian people are a matter of proper concern for all of us, and we assume with good reason, even, I should say, with good Christian reason, that the securing of these rights is obviously a mark of civilised and humane society," Williams said.

 "When those rights are threatened – as in the infamous legislation that was being discussed in Uganda – we quite rightly express repugnance."

Williams is now being pressured to speak out against the church's statement on the bill.

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