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Uganda's parliament debates controversial anti-homosexuality law

Uganda's parliament debates controversial anti-homosexuality law
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The Ugandan parliament is to debate a repressive law on Tuesday, which provides for up to ten years in prison for those who engage in homosexual relations and has been denounced by human rights activists.

The bill targets anyone who engages in homosexual activities or claims to be LGBTQ, in a country where homosexuality is already illegal.

"The anti-homosexuality bill is ready and will be tabled before parliament for a vote this afternoon," Robina Rwakoojo, chairwoman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee that studied the bill, told AFP on Tuesday.

"We have heard from supporters and opponents of the bill and we have made our recommendations for consideration by the plenary," she continued.

The vote on the bill comes at a time when conspiracy theories on the subject are rife on social networks, accusing obscure international forces of promoting homosexuality in Uganda.

A few days before the bill was considered by parliamentarians, President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the African Great Lakes country with an iron fist since 1986, called homosexuals "deviants".

On March 17, Ugandan police announced the arrest of six men for "homosexual practice.

Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, a member of parliament who, like the head of state, belongs to the National Resistance Movement, said he was opposed to the text, telling AFP that he wanted to "promote a just society".

Adrian Jjuuko, a lawyer and human rights activist, said he hoped parliament would "not pass the bill because it would aggravate hate speech against minorities.

Uganda has strict anti-homosexuality legislation - a legacy of colonial laws - but since independence from the United Kingdom in 1962 there have been no prosecutions for consensual homosexual acts.

In 2014, a Ugandan court blocked a bill approved by MPs and signed by President Museveni to punish same-sex relationships with life imprisonment.

The bill caused an uproar beyond Uganda's borders, with some wealthy countries suspending aid after it was introduced in parliament.

The vote in Uganda also comes amid a virulent wave of homophobia in East Africa, where homosexuality is illegal and often considered a crime.

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