The Ugandan parliament has passed a bill that will see homosexual acts punishable by life in prison. The bill has also made it a crime, punishable by prison sentence, for not reporting gay people.
This subject has plagued Uganda having known for years that this bill, first introduced in October 2009 by David Bahati (an MP in Ugandan parliament and a member of the National Resistance Movement), has been subject to international scrutiny. In 2009, US President Barack Obama called it “odious”, with PM David Cameron having suggested that allocation of international aid should hinge on a countries LGBT rights record.
Ugandan PM Amama Mbabazi could follow up his complaint about the lack of quoracy at the vote, as well as President Yoweri Museveni having to sign the bill into law, although the President has said at the swearing in of a new head of the Anglican Church of Uganda that homosexuality “should not be condemned or promoted as a good thing”. The original bill proposed by Bahati wanted the death penalty to be invoked for some homosexual offences, which was later replaced with life in prison, in the hope that the change would improve the chances of the bill being passed.
This is a truly terrifying day for human rights in Uganda. It will open a new era of fear and persecution. If this law is signed by president Museveni, I’d be thrown in jail for life and in all likelihood killed. We urgently need world leaders to call on president Museveni and demand he stops this bill of hate from becoming law.Frank MugishaExecutive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda
Several human rights groups have condemned the bill, with over a million people signing the e-petition by Mugisha to stop Museveni signing in the laws, found here. Amnesty Internationals Deputy Africa Director, Aster van Kregten, has said:
We are a God-fearing nation, we value life in a holistic way. It is because of those values that members of parliament passed this bill regardless of what the outside world thinks.David Bahati
The bill extends from life imprisonment for same-sex intercourse, to all and any other same-sex behaviour, including touching another person with the intent to participate in homosexual relations. Homosexuality is currently illegal in 37 African countries, most of which site it to be against religious and moral beliefs linked in with traditional family values, which supporters of the bill claim is in danger due to western-inspired gay rights groups.
President Museveni must veto this wildly discriminatory legislation, which amounts to a grave assault on human rights and makes a mockery of the Ugandan constitution. Passing the anti-homosexuality bill was a retrograde step for Uganda’s parliament, which has made some important progress on human rights in recent years, including criminalising torture. It flies in the face of the Ugandan government’s stated commitment to ensure all legislation complies with human rights.Aster van KregtenAmnesty International
For our last article on this issue, please go to: Kill the Gays – A Fight Against Ugandan Oppression.