U.K. condemns Uganda bill

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The British high commissioner to Uganda, Martin Shearman, has said that
Britain is against some of the components of the HIV-AIDS prevention and control bill.

The bill is soon to be debated and passed by the Ugandan parliament.

Shearman was today speaking at the 20th anniversary of bilateral collaboration between the government of Uganda and the UK on HIV-AIDs
research in Uganda at a function which took place at Uganda virus Institute in Entebbe town, 30 kilometres east of Kampala.

“Let me highlight two particular challenges. First the legal framework for the fight against HIV-AIDS. The HIV-AIDS prevention and Control bill is now with the parliamentary Committee for discussion. While there are some positive aspects of the bill such as prohibition of discrimination against persons living with HIV, the bill attempts to create a diseases-specific offence which targets
persons who have tested postive. This reinforces the risk of stigmatisation of persons with HIV-AIDS which would be counterproductive in the fight against HIV-AIDS,” Martin Shearman said.

He also said that it is important that everybody regardless background, status, or sexual orientation, should have equal access to service and treatment without discrimination. “Second, corruption in the health sector and its effects. Unfilled posts, drugs stock-outs and staff absenteeism are
widespread problems in the health sector,” he added.

According to the bill, if someone with HIV-AIDS intentionally spreads
the disease to healthy people, he will be sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. If a mature person rapes a minor and infects him/her with the disease, that person will be imprisoned for life.

The second bill has attracted international attention. The anti-gay bill which is also to soon be discussed in the Ugandan parliament has attracted international criticisms against the government of Uganda. The critics, including donor community, said it is inhumane because of the death punishment component.

But Uganda government said that the two bills are private members’ bills presented by MPs and that government has no powers to withdraw them.
However, according to the minister of state for health James Kakooza, “The
bills will be discussed. [But] I am confident that the harsh punishments will be dropped.”

Anti-Gay Bill in Uganda  The Anti-Homosexuality Bill introduced in 2009 by MP David Bahati seeks to impose the death penalty on gay men who are HIV-positive for “aggravated homosexuality”. In Uganda today, homosexuality is already a crime punishable by a prison life term. This proposed law would not only condemn HIV positive gay men and "repeat offenders" to death, it would also jail for three years anyone who knows a gay man but refuses to report them to the authorities. In addition to that, anyone who defends gay rights in public will be sentenced to seven years in prison.
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