Archbishop condemns Ugandan anti-gay debate

The Archbishop of York spoke out today against anti-homosexual laws being debated in Uganda.

John Sentamu, who was born in the country, said proposals which could see gay people put to death were "victimising".



A private member's bill is going through Uganda's parliament which would see gays and lesbians sentenced to a minimum of life in prison if convicted of having sex.



Sex with a minor would result in the death penalty, and people failing to report homosexuality taking place would risk up to three years in prison.



Dr Sentamu said current laws in the country meant that the provisions in the bill were, in effect, already in place.



But he 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, which seems not only victimising but also a diminishment of the individuals concerned."



He said the Anglican church in the UK had been trying to assist counterparts in Uganda as they consider a response to the proposals.



"The reason why (the Archbishop of) Canterbury and I haven't actually come out publicly and said anything is not because we don't want to say anything - because the position is very clear - but rather because we are trying to help," he said.



"We are trying to listen and sometimes people have not understood that at the moment the law in Uganda, without this bill, does exactly the same thing."



Dr Sentamu said that while people may have "traditional" views about sexuality, the Anglican communion is committed to recognising that gay people are valued by God.



Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni has been urged to consider the effects on the country's human rights record if the proposals become law.



Sweden has threatened to withdraw aid if the bill, introduced by MP David Bahati, is passed.



Africa minister Baroness Kinnock has also raised it with her Ugandan counterpart.

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