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Reports link Arizona group with anti-LGBTQ bills in Uganda

Lawmakers in Uganda have been debating a controversial “anti-homosexuality” bill in recent weeks. The bill would make homosexual conduct illegal, and so-called "aggravated homosexuality," along with sex with a minor or while HIV positive, would get you the death penalty. 

Now, LGBTQ activists are linking those laws — and a recent conference in the Ugandan capitol focused on these issues — to a group here in Arizona.

Family Watch International, located in Gilbert, promotes family values and opposes what it calls “harmful comprehensive sexuality education” in the African country. The group has also been  designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which described it as working within the United Nations to promote anti-LGBTQ stances and promoting conversion therapy. 

The Show spoke with Jenny Pizer, the chief legal officer for LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal, more on the issue.

The Show also reached out to Family Watch International. The group declined coming on the air, but sent in written answers to The Show's questions. 

Family Watch denies supporting the anti-LGBTQ laws in Uganda or planning the related conference. In fact, they said they opposed the law and asked the Ugandan president to soften the bill if he were to sign it. The group says it opposes harsh penalties or the death penalty in this context, and “Family Watch opposes legislation that penalizes a person for having same-sex sexual attractions or for how they identify.”

On Tuesday, CNN reported, Ugandan lawmakers amended the bill so that while homosexual conduct would be illegal, identifying as homosexual would not — as long as that person didn’t engage in homosexual acts.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.