Uganda Passes Bill Making Homosexuality Punishable by Life Imprisonment

Gay Rights in Africa

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was passed by the Parliament of Uganda today. The Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi must now sign it for it to become law. Here’s a breakdown of what will happen if the bill becomes law:

  • It will extend the existing penalty of life imprisonment for gay sex to all other same-sex behaviour. This therefore could include the mere touching of another person of the same sex with the intent to have a homosexual relationship
  • ┬áContracting a same-sex marriage will be punishable by life imprisonment
  • ‘Promoting’ homosexuality and ‘aiding and abetting’ others to commit homosexual acts will be punishable by 5-7 years in jail. These new penalties are likely to be used against those who are involved in LGBT organisations, including volunteers that provide counselling of LGBT persons and provide them with condoms and safe sex advice
  • A person in authority who fails to report the breaking of these laws to the police within 24 hours will be sentenced to three years in jail
  • The new legislation also means that Ugandan citizens or foreign residents of Uganda who break these laws while abroad – even in countries where same-sex activity is legal – will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda

The bill, submitted by Member of Parliament David Bahati in October 2009, had been condemned world-wide with US President Barack Obama calling it “odious”. It also originally proposed the death penalty in circumstances where minors were involved – this has been replaced by life imprisonment. Over one million people have signed a petition calling for the Ugandan government to drop the law entirely.

David Bahati has previously said that children were ‘recruited’ by homosexuals. This claim that sexuality can be changed by human intervention has been widely dismissed by the medical community, including both the American Medical and Psychiatric Association. He also claims it is western influence that is responsible for homosexuality in Uganda. Ironically, the homophobic laws that exist across Africa are remnants of colonial rule. Therefore, it is homophobia, not homosexuality, that has been introduced by the west.

The openly gay American journalist Rachel Maddow conducted an interview with Mr. Bahati in December 2010. This can be seen below.

Further evidence of Uganda’s extreme conservative ideology is yesterdays passing of an Anti-Pornography Bill that bans miniskirts.

In January 2011 Uganda’s most prominent gay activist, David Kato, was found bludgeoned to death after his photograph was published in Rolling Stone. The Ugandan magazine had a reputation for publishing the photos, names and addresses of people believed to be LGBT with such headlines as “Hang Them”