U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week presented an award to human rights campaigners who have battled hard to prevent Uganda from passing the “Kill the Gays” bill.
Clinton presented a coalition of Ugandan rights groups with the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defender Award, a signal to African and Islamic nations that Washington will not backtrack in its fight against the legal and political persecution of homosexuals.
“It is critical for all Ugandans – the government and citizens alike – to speak out against discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of anyone. That’s true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love,” Clinton said.
“You are a model for others and an inspiration for the world,” Clinton said to representatives of the group, formed in 2009 to combat draft legislation which proposed the death penalty for anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality”.
The article goes on to incorrectly state that the draft legislation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill no longer contains the death penalty for so-called repeat offenders.
As Care2 has reported before, this is not true. The legislation that currently sits in the 9th Parliament retains the measure. What Reuters is incorrectly referring to is events in the 8th Parliament that saw a committee recommend retiring the death penalty while advancing other measures–but these changes were never actually formalized and the legislation retains this most heinous of penalties, despite what media reports have said.
In addition to the death penalty, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill also carries provisions to fine or incarcerate family and friends who fail to denounce the gay people in their lives, would prevent the so-called “promotion” of homosexuality, and would greatly impede HIV/AIDS prevention work by making it virtually impossible to safely engage with men who have sex with other men.
As mentioned above, the bill is still active in the 9th Parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, with its author David Bahati having said the legislation will be taken up during the current legislative session which started in June.
Clinton is currently on a seven-nation trip throughout Africa, visiting the South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa, among other regions.
Photo courtesy of Marc Nozell via Flickr.