Uganda will pass anti-homosexuality bill this year, says Speaker


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Feb 5, 2009


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[h=1]Uganda will pass anti-homosexuality bill this year, says Speaker[/h] Death penalty clause dropped from latest draft but bill encourages violence against gay men and lesbians, say activists

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    Monday 26 November 2012 16.53 GMT
Uganda gay rights activist David Kato, who was murdered last year. Photograph: Stringer/AP

The Uganda anti-homosexuality bill is back in parliament. Its return was announced by the speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, who, according to this report, is committed to passing it by the end of the year, although Ugandan activists believe it could be passed as early as this week.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told the Associated Press that the bill, which originally mandated death for some gay acts, will become law this year.
Ugandans "are demanding it", she said, reiterating a promise she made before a meeting on Friday of anti-gay activists who spoke of "the serious threat" posed by homosexuals to Uganda's children. Some Christian clerics at the meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, asked the speaker to pass the law as "a Christmas gift".
The latest news is that the death penalty clause has been removed although the threat of death remains. The second objective states the bill will "prohibit and penalize homosexual behaviour and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family".
The phrase "related practices" could mean anything and leaves the door open to subjective interpretations. This is later spelled out in more detail to the extent that "touching – with the intent to commit a homosexual act" is a crime. Any form of advocacy and failure to report an offense will be subject to a fine and up to three years in prison. This will include medical staff, counselors, priests and pastors, employers and family members. One of the worst aspects of the bill is in clause five, which effectively allows "victims" to kill anyone they claim has committed a homosexual offense against them.
[1] A victim of homosexuality shall not be penalized for any crime committed as a direct result of his or her involvement in homosexuality.
The violence has already begun as LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) and those perceived as being LGBTI have been arrested and harassed. Once the law is in place the potential for acts of physical violence against LGBTI people is very real. We should not forget the murder of David Kato in January 2011. Under the anti-homosexuality bill his murderer would be free today. This clause is an open invitation to lynch LGBTI people so in reality the death penalty remains.
The jurisdiction of the bill extends beyond the borders of Uganda and includes the "nullification of inconsistent international treaties, protocols declarations and conventions". It remains relevant if:
[a] a person who, while being a citizen of or permanently residing in Uganda, commits an act outside Uganda, which act would constitute an offence under this Act had it been committed in Uganda; or
the offence was committed partly outside and or partly in Uganda.
Although we are told the bill is supported by the majority of parliament and the country, there are dissenting voices. Blogger Sebaspace says that some politicians, including the president, do not support the bill. He also quotes the former mayor of Kampala as saying he thought the bill unnecessary but that it was too risky to oppose it, which begs the question of how many other parliamentarians support the bill for similar reasons, including, some say, Madam Kadaga herself.

We already know that Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, doesn't like the anti-gay bill because he has said so publicly. Yes, it was wrung out of him by a persistent foreign press but Museveni is on record about his views which are that homosexuality is not new in Africa and, more pertinently, that he doesn't want anything to do with this bill. His motivation for rejecting the bill is debatable of course – but that's not our concern right now.
One of Museveni's long term advisers, John Nnagenda, is also on record condemning the bill.
We also know that the outgoing leader of the opposition, Forum for Democratic Changes's Kizza Besigye, would have decriminalized homosexuality if he had had the chance because he is on record saying so a month before the last elections, which he lost to Museveni.

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