Archive for May 11th, 2011

KAMPALA, Uganda — Uganda’s parliament appeared Wednesday to have dropped plans to debate a controversial anti-gay bill after a global outcry from U.S. leaders, rights groups and an Internet campaign.

The anti-gay bill was first proposed in 2009 but wasn’t debated until last Friday. The bill had been scheduled to be debated before the full parliament on Wednesday but was dropped from the schedule.

The future of the bill remained murky. Wednesday was parliament’s last scheduled day of session, and President Yoweri Museveni was scheduled on Thursday to be sworn in after his February re-election. It wasn’t clear if the bill could be carried forward to the next session or if the bill’s author would have to offer a new bill, which he has said he will do if needed.

The original bill would mandate a death sentence in some cases, part of the reason it attracted global attention. The bill’s author, David Bahati, has said a new version of the bill would not contain the death penalty, but no amended version has been released publicly.

One member of parliament, John Alimadi, said Wednesday that the bill may have been dropped from the agenda because of the worldwide outcry against it.

Online petitions from the groups Avaaz and Allout said they had gathered more than 1.4 million signatures. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called the bill’s progress deeply alarming. A U.S. congressman said if the bill passes he would urge huge cuts in international aid, and the U.S. State Department again voiced its opposition.

“If adopted, a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda,” said Hilary Fuller Renner, a spokeswoman for the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. “Respect for human rights is key to Uganda’s long-term political stability and democratic development, as well as its public health and economic prosperity.”

Gay rights groups say that the harassment of gays has increased in Uganda since the introduction of the bill in October 2009.

Last year a tabloid newspaper in Uganda published the names and photos of men it alleged were gay. One cover included the words “Hang Them.” Shortly afterward, in January, a prominent gay rights activist whose picture was published was bludgeoned to death, though authorities contend David Kato’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with the killing.

Bahati’s original bill carries harsh provisions. It would mandate a death sentence for active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. “Serial offenders” also would face capital punishment. Anyone convicted of a homosexual act would face life imprisonment.

Anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage of acts of homosexuality” would face seven years in prison. Landlords who rent rooms or homes to homosexuals also could get seven years.

If the bill is picked up by the next session, some, all or none of those provision could change during parliament negotiations.

Homosexuality is highly unpopular in Uganda, and pastors in this Christian country speak out loudly against it. Bahati has said he thinks the bill would become law if voted on.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank said in a statement Tuesday he was disturbed that parliamentarians were again discussing the bill. He said if it becomes law that he would urge the U.S. government to oppose any aid to Uganda from international institutions that the U.S. belongs to, such as the World Bank and African Development Bank.

Avaaz, an Internet group that champions action on issues like poverty and climate change, said it had collected more than 1 million Internet signatures from people opposed to the bill. The group wants parliament to reject the bill or Museveni to veto it if it passes.

“In 24 hours, the Ugandan Parliament may vote on a brutal new law that carries the death penalty for homosexuality. Thousands of Ugandans could face execution — just for being gay,” the group’s website said. “We’ve helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again.”


Straziuso contributed to this report from Nairobi, Kenya.


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Remember last year when rocker-turned-reality star Bret Michaelscovered Poison classic “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” with tween pop queen Miley Cyrus? Well, that’s so 2010. That rendition gets the kibosh as Bret teams up with his daughters, Raine, 10, and Jorja, 5, for another version of the No. 1 rock ballad that will appear on the new Kidz Bop album, “Kidz Pop Sings Monster Ballads,” due out next week.

Raine and Jorja sing the song, and Bret plays guitar. The girls are naturals. They perfom the track as a duet as opposed to the choir-like stacked vocals used for most Kidz Bop covers. Their version is acoustic throughout, and is more country than rock. But it’s nice.

Kidz Bop asked Bret and his daughters to guest on the album, a spokesperson for the record company told Yahoo! Music. Bret was excited. “The most awesome jobs I’ve ever had are being a ‘Rockstar,’ Donald Trump’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ winner, raising money for kids with Diabetes and, most importantly, being a good father. So rerecording ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ with Raine and Jorja for ‘Kidz Bop Sings Monster Ballads’ was, by far, one of the coolest ways ever to combine my love for music and family,” Bret said in a statement. “Not only do I get to rock out with my two favorite girls, but a portion of the proceeds will go to the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.”

“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” is one of 16 hair band tributes featured on the album. Other favorites include the likes of Warrant’s “Heaven,” Cinderella’s “Don’t Know What You Got Til Its Gone,” Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home,” Guns N’ Roses “Patience,” and Bad English’s “When I See You Smile.”

WATCH: Hair Flare Video Station

The original “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” appears on Poison’s 1988 album, “Open Up And Say… Ahh!”

In 2003, Bret released the song “Raine” that is dedicated to his daughter.


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“Dancing with the Stars” will enter its Season 12 semifinal round next week, but the show will do so with one less pair of contenders.

Romeo and Chelsie Hightower were cut from the competition on Tuesday night, and although their elimination was unexpected, the rapper/actor said he was more than proud of their achievements.

PLAY IT NOW: Romeo On ‘Dancing’: Is There A Party In His Pants?

“I’m surprised because [I had] one of my best dances last night, but at the same time I’m not surprised because the competition… anybody could go at any time,” Romeo said after learning the news. “We went out with a bang. That’s the most fun I had in my life yesterday.”

Romeo and Chelsie were given a standing ovation by the studio audience – including the judges, who also offered puzzled looks at the elimination news, especially as Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff had the lowest scores on Monday night.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Highlights From ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Season 12

Still, Romeo said performing on “Dancing with the Stars” over the course of the season affected him deeply.

“This show, it’s changed my life forever. People don’t know I was terrified of dancing. I didn’t dance at my own prom,” the young man said. “I turned down a lot of movies because I was terrified of dancing. Coming to this show and having a teacher like Chelsie, it definitely opened my eyes up and I think only bettered my future.”

Romeo said he hoped his dance floor moves helped inspire others to try something new.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Season 12 Cast: Then & Now

“I think I showed kids, anything is possible if you try,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to try… Fall on your face a few times and get back up.

“I’m fearless now,” he added.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: ‘Dancing’s’ Marvelous Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Next week’s semifinals will see stiff competition from the final four: Hines Ward and Kym Johnson; Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy; Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas; and Ralph and Karina.

In related “Dancing with the Stars” news, British singer Adele was forced to cut her performances on the results show down to just her hit single, “Rolling in the Deep,” as her voice was, as she put it, “knackered.”

Instead, with just one hour to rehearse before going live on ABC, fellow musical guest Delta Goodrem stepped in and served up a beautiful rendition of “Natural Woman” in Adele’s spot.


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