KAMPALA, Uganda, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Ugandan officials indicate they may ease up slightly on an anti-gay bill, saying they may change the death penalty provision to life in prison.
The legislation, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, came a month after a conference by three U.S. evangelical Christians who spoke about the traditional African family and the threat homosexuals pose to Bible-based values, The New York Times reported Monday.
Donor countries, including the United States, have demanded Uganda's leaders abandon the proposed law, saying it violates human rights. Faced with the prospect of losing millions of dollars, the Ugandan government indicated it would consider changing the death penalty provision to life in prison for some gays.
The three evangelicals have since tried to distance themselves from the legislation, the Times reported.
"I feel duped," said Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, described on its Web site as a "non-profit, interdenominational Christian organization promoting the message of freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ."
He said he was invited to speak on parenting skills for families of gay children, acknowledging he spoke of converting homosexuals to heterosexuals.
"It's a fight for their lives," Mai Kiang, a director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, told the Times. The New York group already directed nearly $75,000 to Ugandan gay rights activists.
Despite being subject to attacks, gays and lesbians said the situation was improving in Uganda before the bill was introduced.
"What these people have done is set the fire they can't quench," said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who worked undercover six months to document the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.