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Several American pastors and leaders have condemned proposed legislation in Uganda that, if it passed in its proposed version, would punish homosexual sex with the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Rt. Rev. Dr. David Zac Niringiye, assistant bishop of Kampala in the Church of Uganda, says that public pronouncements on the legislation from Christians outside of Uganda fuel the debate. "Ambassadors or religious leaders serve us best by not going public, by simply relating to their individual relationships," Niringiye says. "If they have none, they have no legitimacy to speak. They should just be silent." The Church of Uganda has yet to make a statement on the bill and expects to give its official position by January 20. Christianity Today spoke on the phone with Niringiye about the cultural context of the bill and how he thinks American Christians should respond.

How are Ugandan Christians generally responding to this legislation?

This is not just a Christian response. I can certainly say the objectives of the bill have the total support of most of Uganda, not just Christians, but also Muslims and Roman Catholics. It would not be right to talk about how Christians feel. They're all agreed on the objectives. There will be a difference of opinion on the details of the bill.

The second thing I need to say is that it is important to understand that the section on the death penalty seeks consistency in the law. The law on rape in this country (and I am not stating a position, I'm stating a fact) has a maximum sentence of death, particularly if it is rape of a minor. Therefore, there is the idea that the law that is proposed needs to be [consistent] with other laws on the books.

The second thing to say about the contents of the bill ...

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