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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 7, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 49
Archbishop Tutu to Uganda: Drop 'Kill the Gays' bill
Section One
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Archbishop Tutu to Uganda: Drop 'Kill the Gays' bill

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has called on the government of Uganda to drop the controversial 'Kill the Gays' bill pending in that country's parliament.

'I am opposed to discrimination, that is unfair discrimination, and would that I could persuade legislators in Uganda to drop their draft legislation, because I think it is totally unjust,' Tutu said December 4 at an All Africa Conference of Churches meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

Tutu, who was the first black Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and a leader in the anti-apartheid struggle, told church leaders they should stand by minorities and not preach that Gays and Lesbians are sinful.

'My brothers and sisters, you stood with people who were oppressed because of their skin color. If you are going to be true to the Lord you worship, you are also going to be there for the people who are being oppressed for something they can do nothing about - their sexual orientation,' Tutu said.

IT'S NOT A CHOICE
Tutu added that people do not choose their sexual orientation, and would be 'crazy' to choose to be Gay 'when you expose yourself to so much hatred, even to the extent of being killed.'

The day before Tutu's remarks, U.S. Department officials corrected previous reports that the bill - which provides for the death penalty for 'serial offender' Gays - had passed out of its parliamentary committee.

State Department spokesperson Nicole Thompson said December 3 that the legislation had yet to pass in committee.

'As with all domestic legislation, it's up to the Ugandan Parliament to determine whether or not to move forward with a bill,' Thompson said. 'The bill is currently in committee and has not yet reached the full parliament for consideration.'

A different State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters in a December 3 press briefing that 'a version of the bill has now passed the committee in Uganda.'

Thompson said Nuland might have misspoken when making those comments.

DEATH PENALTY REMOVED?
The State Department would not comment on reports that the death penalty had been removed from the measure, formally titled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to the Washington Blade, a U.S. embassy source in Uganda's capital, Kampala, told them the committee lacks the authority to remove the death penalty provision.

The State Department also declined to comment on when the measure might come before the full parliament. LGBT rights advocates say the Ugandan parliament will adjourn on December 14.

Thompson reiterated the U.S. government's condemnation of the proposed legislation.

'The United States shares the concerns of several members of Uganda's civil society and the Ugandan government's own human rights commission, which determined the Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates both Uganda's constitution and its obligations under international law,' she said.

'Beyond that, we have serious concerns about the negative impact of the bill on public health interests in Uganda, including our concerns that it would undercut Uganda's ability to fight HIV/AIDS infection and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

'We just note that as President Obama said in reference to the same anti-homosexuality bill in his comments during the National Prayer Breakfast, it is unconscionable to target Gays and Lesbians for who they are.'

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