Monday, 18 January 2010

Times: Pastor plans "million-man" anti-gay march
Friday, 15th January 2010 - 14:53CET; Reuters

A Ugandan preacher with close ties to US evangelicals and President Yoweri Museveni's family said today he planned to organise a "million-man" march in February to support a proposed anti-gay law in parliament.

The east African nation has faced intense pressure from Western governments and human rights groups over anti-homosexuality legislation tabled in parliament as a private members' bill last year.

Museveni seemed to distance himself and the government from the proposed law on Tuesday, saying it was a foreign policy issue and calling for more talks. The ex-rebel leader said he had been under pressure from Western leaders.

"We want to show how many people support the bill," Pastor Martin Ssempa told journalists in the Ugandan capital.

"We want to give a postcard that (Museveni) can send to his friend (US President) Barack Obama," Ssempa said in front of posters saying "Africans Unite Against Sodomy" and "Barack Obama Back Off". He said the march was planned for February 17.

Ssempa, one of Uganda's most prominent anti-gay campaigners, criticised Western nations as "failed states" for supporting gay rights.

Under the original proposal "serial offenders", and those who commit "aggravated homosexuality", faced a death sentence.

Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo has said a revised law would now probably limit the maximum penalty to life in prison rather than execution.

A local independent newspaper, the Daily Monitor, quoted parliament's speaker saying the legislative body would debate the bill despite Museveni's call for more talks. "There is no way we can be intimidated by remarks from the President to stop this bill," Edward Ssekandi was quoted as saying.

[Click on the hyplerink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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