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Uganda considers tougher anti-gay laws

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but Parliament is considering tougher laws Photo: ITV News

Uganda may be one of the worst places in the world to be gay. But it can always get even worse.

Any day now, its Parliament will consider a bill to make the country’s tough anti-gay laws tougher still.

Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, promised the bill as a “Christmas gift” to the nation. She says that Ugandans are “demanding” the law. The proposals do seem to have considerable support.

The precise details are not clear - homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. But activists fear that the bill will include proposals for the death sentence to be brought against "repeat offenders".

Uganda is a conservative country where influential people from the Church and the state have combined to lead popular support.

And in doing so, many have been able to re-shape the public debate into one about the right of post-colonial African nations to decide for themselves what is "right" and what is "wrong".

One lawmaker summed it up to me earlier, “We are not a colony anymore - what is natural in your country may not be natural in my country”.

The world has responded, however. Foreign donors have threatened to cut off aid; Canada’s Foreign Minister publicly rowed with Speaker Kadaga about gay rights; US President Barack Obama described the bill’s contents as "odious"; British ministers have been raised their concerns too.

A further, ferocious international response seems certain if the bill is passed, in whatever form.

But that may be welcomed by the bill’s proponents, who will define themselves as defenders of Uganda’s morals, and its right to make those morals.