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Uganda anti-gay bill proposes death sentence for homosexuals

Uganda anti-gay bill: a bill that would sentence homosexuals in Uganda to death has been called a step backwards for human rights but may pass a vote in parliament.

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Uganda anti-gay bill: Ugandan Members of Parliament at Parliament chat Wednesday. Uganda's parliament appeared Wednesday to have dropped plans to debate a controversial anti-gay bill after a global outcry.

Stephen Wandera/AP

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Uganda's parliament was forced to drop plans to debate a controversial bill that once proposed the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, but officials indicated lawmakers would debate it on Friday.

U.S. leaders and rights groups on Wednesday have denounced the bill in recent days in hopes parliament will reject it. Internet petitions have gathered more than 1.4 million signatures.

The bill was first proposed in 2009 but wasn't debated until last Friday. It had been scheduled to be debated before the full parliament on Wednesday, but a walkout by female legislators over an unrelated bill prevented parliament from discussing it.

Now parliament appears ready to hold an extraordinary session on Friday to debate the bill, which in its original form would impose the death penalty and life imprisonment in some cases.

The bill's author, David Bahati, has said a new version would not contain the death penalty, but no amended version has been released publicly. Bahati said Wednesday he expected the bill to be debated and passed on Friday.

Frank Mugisha, the director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a gay rights group, said he considered the lack of quorum a temporary reprieve.

"The way I saw, if the bill was debated today, it would have been passed because most MPs were in its favor," he said. "We were saved by the lack of quorum."

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