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Grassley unfamiliar with plan to execute gay Ugandans
Responding to calls from gay-rights activists to denounce an anti-homosexuality law being considered in the African nation of Uganda, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said he is not a member of that country’s parliament and is unfamiliar with the particulars of the law, an aide to the Republican lawmaker told The Iowa Independent on Wednesday.
“Subsequent to inquiries like yours this week, [Sen. Grassley’s] office contacted the U.S. State Department to get more information,” said spokeswoman Beth Levine. “The office was told that the administration hasn’t made an official statement, but an assistant secretary has privately relayed concerns to the Ugandan president.”
Des Moines-based One Iowa is conducting a petition drive demanding Grassley denounce the bill, which originally called for people convicted of being a homosexual to be sentenced to life in prison. People who test positive for HIV would have been executed along with anyone who has homosexual sex more than once.
According to a report by Bloomberg News, the death penalty and life imprisonment portion of the law have been dropped, however it still contains portions that would sentence homosexuals to prison. The bill is expected to be presented to the Ugandan parliament in two weeks.
Activists felt Grassley could have an impact on the situation due to his reported affiliation with a group of lawmakers known as “The Family.” Investigative journalist Jeff Sharlet, who has written a book about the group, said Grassley has been involved with the secret fellowship of Christian politicians since the 1980s and has been active in African affairs on the group’s behalf.
Levin said Grassley has not been in contact with “The Family” on this or any other issue and has never lived at or attended a prayer meeting at the group’s townhouse on C Street near the U.S. Capitol.
“He worships at Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, and on the rare occasion he’s in Washington on a weekend, he worships at Woodlawn Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia,” Levin said.
She said Grassley hasn’t participated in a Sunday prayer breakfast often associated with “The Family” in “probably 10 years,” and when he did it was made up of senators of all faiths and denominations, “including Protestant, Catholic, Mormon and Jewish.”