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Thursday, 11 February 2010 11:37

Uganda Church Leader Blasts Obama for Comment on Anti-Gay Bill

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5 February 2010
Fredrick Nzwili
Ecumenical News International

Nairobi (ENI). A Ugandan evangelical church leader says Africans are saddened by U.S. President Barack Obama's condemnation of an anti-homosexuality bill before the country's legislature.

"It is very disappointing for Africans to hear Obama, who ran on the ticket of 'change we can believe in,' suddenly growing cold feet when we postulate in faith that homosexuals can truly change," Pastor Martin Sempa of the Family Policy and Human Rights Centre in Kampala told Ecumenical News International on 5 February.

"We wish to tell him that sodomy is not the change we want. Nor can we believe in it."

At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on 4 February Obama criticised as "odious" a law aimed at imposing increased penalties for homosexuals that has been proposed to Uganda's legislature.

The bill calls for raising the sentence for "same gender sexual activity" to life imprisonment.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who gave the keynote address at the breakfast, said she had spoken with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, "whom I have known through the prayer breakfast, and expressed the strongest concerns about a law being considered in the parliament of Uganda".

"We may disagree about gay marriage," said Obama, "but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are - whether it's here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda."

Religion News Service reported that Obama's comments were heard by a crowd of about 3000 people, including members of the U.S. Congress, military brass and representatives of more than 140 countries.

Openly gay Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire had urged Obama to address the Uganda bill, and said on 4 February that he was "absolutely delighted" that the president did.

A strong supporter of the bill, Sempa said it was a mistake for Obama to think gays and lesbians were targeted for who they are, rather than for what they did. He also accused Obama's administration of supporting aborition.

"It is the repugnant sexual acts, which they do, which constitute a crime, a sin and a rebellion against the order of nature. Here in Africa, we believe homosexuals can change," he said.

Anglican Bishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda's Masindi Kitara diocese said, "We have the capacity to amend the bill. Uganda should be able to find a right way. This is a private member's motion. It has not been passed. I think there is a lot of noise about it."

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