Uganda Politicians' New Anti-Gay Bill Will Impose Years In Prison For "Promoting" Homosexuality
Surprise, surprise. This landlocked country in East Africa is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons — Uganda lawmakers have drawn up a new anti-gay bill, and it's not pretty. According to a leaked draft of the legislation, Uganda's Ministers of Parliament (MPs) this time intend to ban the "promotion" of homosexuality — language so vague that activists say will make it more repressive and its consequences more far-reaching, Al Jazeera reported. There is also a proposed jail sentence of up to seven years.
The new bill is expected to substitute the Anti-Homosexuality Law, which was also widely known as the "Kill The Gays Bill." The former legislation was struck down in court on a technicality in early August after President Yoweri Museveni signed the abhorrent bill into law in February.
The "Kill The Gays Bill" outlawed any and all acts of homosexuality, and incriminated people who dared to officiate same-sex marriages. Under the law, lifelong imprisonment awaited those accused of "aggravated homosexuality," and — similar to the new bill — banned the "promotion of homosexuality." Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda under a 1950s penal code — that still holds up today — and recommends jail time for those found guilty of homosexual acts, said Al Jazeera.
Politicians said they hope to present the legislation to parliament by the end of the year. Opposition Chief Whip Cecilia Ogwal told the Daily Monitor, a Ugandan newspaper, that homosexuality should not be tolerated in the country, adding:
There seems to be a national consensus of sorts in Uganda that homosexuality is a disease of the deviant, who then lure children into performing "unnatural sexual practices." That, according to the Daily Monitor, is defined in the draft bill as "a sexual act between persons of the same sex, or with or between transsexual persons, a sexual act with an animal and anal sex."
Ugandan politician Latif Ssebaggala, a strong anti-gay advocate, told the Associated Press that the bill was in advanced stages, and expressed confidence in its passage:
President Museveni previously expressed concern that anti-gay legislation will have a negative impact on economic ties with the West, AP reported. But after Uganda's Constitutinal Court dismissed the Anti-Homosexuality Law earlier this year, there is increasing pressure to pass a new anti-gay bill.
Uganda's intolerance towards homosexuality first went mainstream when a video surfaced on Youtube of a pastor, Martin Ssempa, castigating gays for their sexual acts — which, among other things that he discovered in his enlightened research, consisted of "eating da poo poo." I highly recommend checking it out, because it's so absurd it almost borders on hilarity.
But that misconception is exactly what drives the anti-gay movement and the passage of such bills into law. Homosexuality is heavily frowned upon and illegal in 37 out of the 52 African countries. Leaders in Uganda's gay community said that rising anti-gay sentiment has driven many of them underground, reported AP, with plenty more facing discrimination so bitter that they have been evicted by landlords and fled the country.
Images: Getty Images (2), Flickr/CIAT