Hundreds in Uganda Denounce Homosexuality in Wide Protest

Hundreds of people in Uganda joined rallies on Tuesday to denounce homosexuality, a practice they fear is growing in the largely conservative African state.

"Homosexuality breaks the laws of God, the laws of nature and the laws of Uganda," said Pastor Martin Ssempa, spokesman for the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality, which organized the anti-gay rally in Uganda's capital, according to The Associated Press.

Homosexuality carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in Uganda, like in most African states.

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Protestors from various religious groups, including Christians, Muslims and Bahai, held signs that read "Homosexuality is crime. That's the law. Keep it." and "God loves homos, he hates homosexuality." They were in Kampala trying to urge the government to uphold the country's ban against what conservatives have called a "repugnant practice" ahead of November's Commonwealth Summit.

Ssempa, a Pentecostal pastor, believes homosexuals are using the summit to intimidate Uganda into changing the country's laws, he told BBC's Focus on Africa. Homosexuals from the Sexual Minorities Uganda group launched a media campaign last week to demand respect and their rights.

In protest, ethics and integrity minister Nsaba Buturo said the government would not change its law.

"They should not be allowed to pursue an agenda of indoctrinating our children to homosexuality," said Buturo, according to Uganda's The New Vision.

Uganda's government rejected the homosexuals' call for recognition and equal rights.

Ssempa and his coalition urged the government not to bow to external pressure to relax its laws.

"Government should learn from the Church of Uganda, which has withstood international pressure and had to do without donor funds in order to uphold morality," said a statement by the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality.

The gay community is estimated by activists to number 500,000 in Uganda, according to BBC.

"We want everyone to know that we are disappointed. Homosexuality is a terrible thing. It's illegal under our laws," Aaron Mwesigye, the provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Uganda told Ecumenical News International from Kampala. "They (the government) must make a clear policy over the issue, as they have done with HIV and AIDS."

Mwesigye spoke at a churches' rally held on Tuesday to mobilize action against homosexuality.

"God's design and intention is for humanity to express itself only in male and female relationship and for procreation. We condemn homosexuality," he said at last week's press conference.

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