Uganda's Yoweri Museveni puts trains before gay rights

Yoweri Museveni (15 Dec 2011)
Image caption Yoweri Museveni has distanced himself from the death penalty bill

Uganda's president has rejected Western attempts to link international aid with progress on gay rights, saying building infrastructure was more important.

Yoweri Museveni said homosexuals need electricity, roads and trains too.

President Barack Obama has ordered US government agencies to put gay rights at the heart of foreign policy.

"Before anyone gives me a lecture about homosexuals and their rights, first talk about railways," Mr Museveni told delegates at a meeting in Kampala.

Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries, including Uganda, where homosexual acts are punishable with up to 14 years in prison.

A bill which includes the death penalty for some homosexual acts was introduced to the Ugandan parliament in 2009. Uganda came under intense international pressure to shelve the bill, which was not debated in the last session of parliament.

The controversial bill has been re-introduced in the new legislative session, according to AFP.

It would also criminalise anyone failing to report to the authorities a person they knew to be homosexual - and make it illegal for people to speak out in favour of gay rights.

The US has said it will use foreign aid and diplomacy to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "gay rights are human rights".

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that those receiving UK aid "should adhere to proper human rights" and raised the issue of gay rights at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October.

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