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Uganda's anti-gay bill won't contain death penalty, says lawmaker who authored legislation

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BY RODNEY MUHUMUZA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

KAMPALA, Uganda -- The Ugandan lawmaker who originally authored an anti-gay bill proposing death for some homosexual acts said Friday that a new version of the proposed legislation doesn't contain the death penalty.

Parliamentarian David Bahati said the bill, which is expected to be voted on next month, had "moved away from the death penalty after considering all the issues that have been raised."

"There is no death penalty," he told The Associated Press.

Bahati said the bill now focuses on protecting children from gay pornography, banning gay marriage, counseling gays, as well as punishing those who promote gay culture. Jail terms are prescribed for various offenses, he said, offering no details. The most recent version of the bill hasn't been publicly released.

In 2009, when Bahati first introduced the bill, he charged that homosexuals threatened family values in Uganda and that gays from the West were recruiting poor Ugandan children into gay lifestyles with promises of money and a better life. He said a tough new law was needed because a colonial-era law against sodomy was not strong enough.

The bill, popular among many in Uganda but condemned abroad, has been under scrutiny by a committee whose members now say they are ready to put it forward for a vote. One of the members, Krispus Ayena, said Friday that some parliamentarians spoke strongly against certain provisions in the bill as well as the death penalty itself.

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