Dem calls on Uganda's president to veto anti-gay bill

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) is calling on Uganda's president to veto an anti-gay bill that would impose a life sentence for committing "aggravated homosexuality."

"I join with Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in calling on Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to veto the Uganda's parliament recently passed Anti-Homosexuality Bill," she said over the weekend. "Rights of LGBT people around the world are human rights, and I am deeply concerned regarding the harassment, discrimination and violence that Uganda's LGBT community will certainly face should this legislation become law."

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The legislation, which Uganda's Parliament approved on Dec. 20, requires a lifetime prison term for aggravated homosexuality. One press report said this sentence could be handed down to people who become infected with HIV.

The bill also sets a 14-year jail term for first-time convictions of men who have same-sex relations, and criminalizes the promotion of homosexuality. Bass said that latter provision would end up harassing people who are working to provide services to people living with HIV and AIDs in Uganda.

"One of the great lessons of human history — and one certainly that the United States knows all to well— is that any government which legalizes the subjugation of a portion of its citizenry ultimately regrets that decision and will have to face the judgment of the world," Bass said.

Last week, Coons and Durbin said signing the bill into law would "add to a disturbing trend in Uganda of closing space for free expression and restricting dissent."

In order for the bill to become law, Museveni must sign it within 30 days of its Dec. 20 passage by the Parliament.