By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA (Reuters) - Gay rights activists hacked several Ugandan government websites on Thursday to denounce what they see as the harassment of homosexuals in the east African country, the government said.
A controversial bill that initially proposed hanging gays in the conservative country is before a parliamentary committee, where its progress appears to have stalled.
A hacker who used the Twitter social media name @PinkNinj4 defaced several government websites including those of the prime minister's office, parliament, the Uganda Securities Exchange and Uganda Law Society, a government statement said.
"Message to the government of Uganda: you want to put people to death only because they have different likings," read one message posted on the website of the Uganda Law Society.
"How ... disgusting. There's no need to put people to death for this, and we'll not tolerate it."
The proposed legislation, first introduced in parliament in 2009, has pitted veteran President Yoweri Museveni against the evangelical church on one side and donors on the other.
Denounced as "odious" by U.S. President Barack Obama, the proposed legislation has been widely condemned outside Africa, a continent where homosexuality is illegal in 37 countries.
Few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and the loss of jobs.
"Hijacking our websites and using strategies of blackmail to promote their dark agendas is unacceptable to us," said government spokeswoman Karoro Okurut.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Richard Lough)