Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – 2012

The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill is back in Parliament.  It’s return was announced  by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga who according to this report is committed to passing the Bill by the end of the year though 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 has been removed but the threat of death remains as every other  vile aspect of this detailed and expansive Bill 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”.

Although listed,  the phrase “related practices” could mean anything and leaves the door open to highly subjective interpretations. This objective is later spelt out in more detail to the extent that simply “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 monetary fine and up to three years in prison.  This will include medical staff, counseling professionals, priests and pastors, employers and family members.  One of the worst aspects of the Bill are  in clause 5 which effectively allows ‘victims’ to kill anyone they claim has committed a homosexual offense against them.   The violence has already begun as LGBTI 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 AHB his murderer would be free today.    This clause is an open invitation to lynch LGBTI people so in reality  the death penalty remains.

[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 jurisdiction of the Bill extends beyond the borders of Uganda and includes the “nullification of inconsistent international treaties, protocols declarations and conventions.”

[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

[b]  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  desenting voices  as blogger Sebaspace shows amongst politicians including the President, those who don’t like the Bill.   He also quotes the former Mayor of Kampala as stating he thought the Bill unnecessary but too risky to oppose it which begs the question of how many other parliamentarians support the Bill for similar reasons including Madam Kadaga herself.

 We already know that Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni doesn’t like the Bahati 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 Yoweri Museveni’s long term advisers, John Nnagenda, is also on record condemning the bill because he, rightly, realizes that it is a bill against love.

We also know that the outgoing leader of the opposition, Forum for Democratic Changes’s (FDC) Kiiza 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 Yoweri Museveni.

The complete Bill in PDF format can be read here.   For updates and questions on how to support the campaign to stop the Bill follow @frankmugisha and @Seba_Space