Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Thursday, 24 December 2009

Archbishop of York condemns Ugandan anti-gay bill

Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu
Ugandan-born Dr Sentamu said gay people were valued by God

The Archbishop of York has condemned an anti-homosexuality bill going through parliament in Uganda.

Dr John Sentamu, who was born in the African country, said the laws being debated were "victimising".

Under the plans gays and lesbians would be jailed for life if convicted of having sex, and gay people who had sex with a minor would be put to death.

Dr Sentamu told the BBC the Anglican communion was committed to recognising that gay people were valued by God.

Aid threat

Under the bill, proposed by MP David Bahati, people who fail to report homosexuality face up to three years in jail.

Under its terms 'serial offenders' would face the death penalty.

Dr Sentamu told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm opposed to the death sentence. I'm also not happy when you describe people in the kind of language you find in this private member's bill."


He added it seemed not only victimising but also "a diminishment of the individuals concerned".

He also pointed out that the current law in Uganda already had provision to jail gay people for engaging in homosexual acts.

The new bill wants the 14-year limit raised to life imprisonment.

Dr Sentamu said: "Sometimes people have not understood that at the moment the law in Uganda, without this bill, does exactly the same thing."

Sweden has threatened to withdraw aid if the bill is approved and Africa minister Baroness Kinnock has raised concerns with her Ugandan counterpart.

Mr Bahati, from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), said: "Here, we don't recognise homosexuality as a right. We are after the sin, not the sinners. We love them - and we want them to repent and come back.

"It's not an inborn orientation, it's a behaviour learnt - and it can be unlearnt."

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