Uganda VP tells British Minister death penalty for gays will be dropped

Ugandan VP Edward Ssekandi meeting the UK Minister Lynne Featherstone

Uganda’s vice president, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi has told a visiting British government minister that the proposed death penalty in the Anti-homosexuality Bill 2009 would be dropped when it becomes law.

The government owned New Vision newspaper is reporting that Ssekandi however told the British Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone, that homosexuality was alien to Ugandan culture and values. The VP’s remarks sharply contradict a recent statement by President Yoweri Museveni to the effect that homosexuals have always been part of the black African heritage.

The president told a delegation of the European Union ambassadors accredited to Uganda that homosexuals were neither persecuted nor discriminated in Uganda, giving four examples of prominent historical Ugandans who were homosexual.

Featherstone had sought to understand if the Anti-homosexuality Bill would contain punitive clauses against consenting adult gays.

The Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 was re-tabled in February this year after it expired during the previous parliament. Although government took a unanimous decision to distance itself from the bill, saying it was a private members bill, a number of cabinet ministers have since spoken on the topic sending confusing signals to interested parties.

Recently, gay activists took Ethics and Integrity Minister, Simon Lokodo to court for forcefully closing a gay rights workshop in Entebbe. The minister had claimed that the activists were plotting to recruit young children into homosexuality.

The same minister had posted a statement on the official website of the Media Centre, under Office of the President, a few days before the raid, distancing government from supporting the bill. Another Minister, Kahinda Otafiire for Justice was quoted in the media saying he had no problems with gays and that they can co-exist in society.

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