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Ugandan president blocks bill increasing gay sex penalties

Jan. 17, 2014 at 3:10 PM

KAMPALA, Uganda, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A bill punishing gay sex with life imprisonment was passed without a quorum, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said, blocking it.

In a letter to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, Museveni called homosexuality "abnormal," the (Kampala) Daily Monitor reported Friday. But he suggested that increasing economic opportunity for young people might be more effective than draconian punishment.

Museveni, in the letter dated Dec. 28, said Kadaga insisted on holding a vote even though he had advised additional study of the issue and pushed through the bill in the absence of a quorum.

In recent years, some Ugandan officials have called for the death penalty for homosexuals. The bill that passed the Ugandan Parliament does not include that, instead setting life in prison as the maximum penalty and also criminalizing failure to report homosexuality.

Museveni suggested many people, especially the young, engage in homosexuality for "mercenary reasons."

He said there are a number of issues that require investigation: "The question at the core of the debate of homosexuality is what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?"

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