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Republicans Condemn Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill

(AP Photo/Stephen Wandera)
Five Republican representatives – Chris Smith, Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts, Trent Franks and Anh "Joseph" Cao – have written a letter to Ugandan President Yoweri Mouseveni pressing him to stop pending legislation that would severely criminalize homosexuality and sometimes impose the death penalty for homosexual acts.

In the letter, which you can read in full here, the men say their religious faith requires them to oppose the legislation because it contradicts the "foundational Christian belief in the inherent dignity and worth of all men and women."

The Ugandan law has become a hot topic in America because, as National Public Radio reports, "U.S. evangelicals have long had a close relationship with top Ugandan leaders." Some see the influence of American lawmakers in the drafting of the legislation, which is popular in Uganda.

"A U.S. evangelical group called The Family reportedly includes U.S. lawmakers who have shown great interest in Ugandan affairs," according to NPR. "The bill's proponents are reluctant to talk about whether The Family supports them in any way."

Earlier this month, conservative Republican Sen. Tom Coburn came out against the legislation, calling it "an absurd proposal to execute gays." So did pastor Rick Warren, who said "the potential law is unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals." Warren's ministry has a presence in Uganda.

Homosexuality is a taboo issue in Uganda, where many politicians suggest it is an import from the West. The United States and other countries have pressured Ugandan leaders not to pass the bill, which would mean a death sentence for gay people with H.I.V. who have sex and life imprisonment for a homosexual act. Friends, family members and landlords of gay people would also be imprisoned if they don't report them.

"You are either anti-homosexual or you're for homosexuals, because there's no middle point," David Bahati, who wrote the bill, told NPR. "Anybody who does not believe that homosexuality is a crime is a sympathizer."

Uganda Proposes Death Penalty for Gays

Pictured: Ugandan gay rights activist David Cato

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