Lawmakers in Burundi are pressing ahead with a bill that criminalizes being gay in the central African country, reports AFP.

The Senate rejected an amendment that criminalized being gay when voting on a new draft criminal code law on February 17. In November, the lower chamber of Parliament had voted in favor of the amendment that prescribes two years in jail for being gay.

A large protest might have influenced assembly members who voted to reinstate the amendment on Friday. Last week, as many as 20,000 people took to the streets of Bujumbura, the country's capital, angry over the Senate's actions.

Speaking to reporters at the event, CNDD-FDD Party Chairman Jeremie Ngendakumana said, “The CNDD-FDD is protesting today to support the [view of the] majority of Burundians that homosexuality should be punished by law.”

“Homosexuality is a sin. It is a culture which has been imported to sully our morals and is practiced by immoral people.”

“If we love our country, if we love our culture, we must ban this practice which will draw only misfortune for us,” he added.

Assembly President Pie Ntavyohanyuma said the vote on the issue was nearly unanimous. Lawmakers now need to work out a compromise between the two versions of the bill. If a compromise is unattainable, assembly members get to decide on the matter.

“We can't retreat, or it will seem like deputies are granting the right to have homosexual relations, even homosexual marriage, in Burundi,” said Jean Minani, a member of the Assembly.

Minani's view on the issue is one held by many in Africa, where anti-gay sentiment has been on the rise in recent years. Lawmakers in Nigeria are considering passing a draconian law that would criminalize gay unions under the guise of a gay marriage ban in a country where it is already illegal to be gay. Gay marriage bans generally only define marriage as a heterosexual union, denying gay couples the benefits and obligations of the institution, but the Nigerian law would go much further. The bill calls for three years of imprisonment for gay and lesbian couples caught living together and five years for anyone who witnesses or aids the pair.