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Lawmakers in campaign to revive anti-gay law

Published:Thursday | August 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Controversial pastor and activist, Martin Ssempa (right), talks to the courtroom before a judge's ruling last Friday, at Uganda's Constitutional Court. A Ugandan court has invalidated an anti-gay bill signed into law earlier this year.

KAMPALA (AP):Ugandan parliamentarians are launching a campaign to revive a recently invalidated anti-gay measure and hope to have it passed within weeks, a lawmaker disclosed yesterday.

About 150 lawmakers have promised to vote in support of the bill when parliament emerges from a recess later this month, said parliamentarian Latif Ssebaggala, who is collecting signatures from lawmakers who support the anti-gay measure.

Ssebaggala said he was treating the anti-gay measure as a "national priority" after a Ugandan court last week declared it illegal because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum.

The Constitutional Court didn't rule on the substance of the law, so lawmakers are now able to reintroduce the same legislation, which allows for jail terms of up to life for homosexual offences. Although the law had wide support among Ugandans, activists and watchdog group called the measure draconian and said it was unnecessary in a country where homosexuality had long been banned.

The court's decision sparked anger among Ugandans who believed the court's decision was motivated by Western sanctions against Uganda's government over the anti-gay measure enacted in February.

After Friday's court ruling, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni declined to comment on the decision, telling reporters at a news conference that he would discuss the matter with his party's caucus. Many Ugandans believe he quietly backed the court's decision amid mounting pressure from the East African country's development partners.