Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill is making its way back to Parliament for a full vote before the body adjourns on Dec. 14. The bill already made it passed the Committee of Jurisdiction in the Uganda parliament this month. Many are concerned that the upcoming vote in mid-December will pass the bill, resulting in extreme punishments to offenders.
The bill, also referred to as “Kill the Gays” was introduced in 2009 sparking protests at the Ugandan Embassy in the United States. The bill criminalizes same-sex relations and implements harsh punishments to those who engage in such relations and acts as well as to those who advocate for homosexual rights.
The purpose of this bill is to expand on existing anti-homosexual laws in Uganda where homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years in prison. If the new bill passes, punishments as harsh as life in prison or the death penalty for offenders could be the result.
In a statement issued to supporters about the bill, Frank Mugisha, an activist and coordinator for Sexual Minorities Uganda, said,
“The bill does little more than to entrench stigma and prejudice, which will polarize the Ugandan society further and undermine public health efforts to combat the spread of HIV…It places a total ban on public discussion of an issue whose existence cannot be wished away. If the bill is adopted, it will make Uganda a pariah in the international community. We therefore urge the Ugandan Parliament to reject this bill in its entirety.”
Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson reports that Mugisha has asked for supporters to come together in peaceful protests at the various Ugandan foreign missions in countries worldwide, as they had done when the legislation was first introduced three years ago.
After years of sitting idle in parliament, Uganda Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga expressed the need for action on the bill. According to Blade, BBC News Africa reported that Kadaga was not pleased with Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird when he “warned Uganda not to trample on human rights.” In response to Baird’s warning Kadaga said, “If homosexuality is a value for the people of Canada they should not seek to force Uganda to embrace it. We are not a colony or a protectorate of Canada.” Kadaga left a bitter taste in the mouths of pro-gay supporters saying, “Ugandans want that law as a Christmas gift. They have asked for it and we’ll give them that gift.”
To read the full story by Chris Johnson of Washington Blade, click here