December 20, 2013 at 7:04 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Uganda lawmakers approve anti-homosexuality bill

Uganda, Kill the Gays bill, gay news, Washington Blade

Protesters gather outside the Ugandan embassy in Northwest D.C. on Dec. 1, 2012, to protest the country’s “Kill the Gays” bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ugandan lawmakers on Friday approved a bill that would impose a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of homosexuality.

“Because we are a God-fearing nation, we value life in a holistic way,” Parliamentarian David Bahati, who introduced the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2009, told the BBC. “It is because of those values that members of parliament passed this bill regardless of what the outside world thinks.”

Bahati’s bill originally sought to impose the death penalty against anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. Lawmakers last year removed this provision from the measure.

“I am very disappointed by the ignorance displayed by Ugandan MPs,” Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, told the Washington Blade after the vote.

Council for Global Equality Chair Mark Bromley also criticized Ugandan lawmakers.

“The Council joins our colleagues in Uganda and around the world in condemning the adoption today of a harsh, anti-gay law that sentences LGBT Ugandans to life in prison,” he said.

Stonewall, a British LGBT advocacy group, described the bill’s passage as “incredibly sad.”

President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials have repeatedly spoken out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The White House and British Prime Minister David Cameron have also suggested the allocation of international aid should hinge upon a country’s LGBT rights record.

The Center for Constitutional Rights in March 2012 filed a federal lawsuit against Scott Lively in Massachusetts on behalf of SMUG that accused the evangelical Christian of exploiting homophobic attitudes in the East African country and encouraging Ugandan lawmakers to approve the anti-homosexuality bill. U.S. District Judge Michael A. Posner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in August ruled SMUG’s lawsuit can move forward.

“We shall work as hard as possible to stop the act from becoming law,” Mugisha told the Blade. “I will not allowed to be treated as a second class citizen based on my sexual orientation.”

Uganda is among the more than 70 countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized.

The Nigerian Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would, among other things, effectively ban LGBT advocacy in the African country. The Indian Supreme Court on Dec. 11 recriminalized homosexuality in the former British colony.

The BBC reported it remains unclear whether Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law because of concerns over the process through which his country’s lawmakers approved it.

“With global condemnation and the weight of history in the balance, we hope Uganda’s president will stand on the right side of history to reject this assault on the fundamental rights of his own citizens,” said Bromley.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • In theory, Ugandan LGBT can call their government’s bluff by large scale co-ordination and simply dobbing themselves in en masse.

    Let’s do the math:
    • Population of Uganda = 37 million
    • At 5%, gay population of Uganda = 1.8 million
    • Size of Ugandan military = 50,000
    • Capacity of Ugandan prison system = 15,000
    • Current occupancy of Ugandan prisons = 38,000—new-report/-/688334/1940590/-/lbpyvlz/-/index.html

    Ugandan prisons rank in the top ten of the world’s most overcrowded prisons. So, let’s divide the LGBT population estimate by 10, to 180,000 – still three times the size of their entire armed forces, and over 10x the capacity of all their prisons, even if they freed the existing prison population at midnight. How could they possibly accommodate all homosexuals who voluntarily dob themselves in?

    Despite LGBT being Uganda’s most disliked and persecuted minority, strategically speaking, these are still excellent odds, and worth a try. A similar strategy worked in Australia’s Tasmania in the 1990’s. I’d daresay a few thousand internationals would give self-incrimination a shot too.

  • Rick Mangus

    And the United States Government stance on this action…?

  • EL

    What you need to start doing is insist that US African Safari companies in the US stop offering trips to Uganda. I notice a lot of tour groups still offer trips there despite their attitudes toward gay people. They should be held accountable for it and made aware of how their actions help a country that oppresses human rights!

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