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UN, Vatican come out against Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill

(KAMPALA) Despite a long-standing position of speaking out against homosexuality, the Vatican last week said it opposes discriminatory penal legislation against gay people during a United Nations panel discussion on sexual orientation.

Anti-homosexual legislation is currently being considered in Uganda. If passed, the bill would make homosexuality illegal and in some cases, carry a death sentence for offenders.

Said Father Philip Bene, legal attaché to the UN's Holy See Mission, “The Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.”

According to a December 14 report by Pink News the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams has also spoken out publicly against the bill, stating he “did not see how any Angelican could support it.”

“The murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State,” said Williams. “While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth.”

The United Nations is also threatening sanctions against Uganda, having said if the bill is passed they will move forward in shifting the Geneva-based African AIDS Vaccine Program (AAVP) to Entebbe.

"Criminalising adult consensual sex is not only a human rights issue, it goes against a good HIV strategy," said Catherine Hankins, the chief scientific advisor for UNAIDS, which alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) backs the AAVP, in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

"If the bill passes, UNAIDS and WHO would have to decide what happens and to see whether this is an appropriate place."

MP David Bahati, the sponsor of the bill, has said Uganda will not bow to international pressures to remove language from calling for the death penalty for homosexual offenders.