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Ugandan MP Proposes Gay Death-Penalty Bill – Are American Anti-Gay Groups Responsible?

Ugandan MP Proposes Gay Death-Penalty Bill – Are American Anti-Gay Groups Responsible?

A Ugandan MP has tabled a new bill that could mean the death penalty for gay and transgender citizens convicted of “aggravated homosexuality”. The bill, which calls for citizens to tell the authorities about those they believe to be gay, has been called a prelude to “the final solution” by some Ugandan gay rights activists.
 
Introduced by MP David Bahati, the bill would extend Uganda’s already tough anti-gay laws to prescribe the death penalty for those charged with “aggravated homosexuality”.

The bill describes this charge as engaging in “gay sex” with a person under the age of eighteen, or a partner with a physical disability (their consent does not factor). The charge also applies if the accused has HIV (regardless of whether a condom was used or not).

Further to this, the bill seeks to criminalize the “promotion” and “dissemination” of materials that are affirming of homosexuality, meaning that a charity that helps any known homosexual, for whatever reason, could fall fowl of this egregious and ill-defined law.

Frighteningly, the bill also mandates that, should an individual reveal their sexuality to a relative or friend, they must be reported to the authorities within 24 hours. If the relative/friend does not report that individual, both parties could be fined or face prison sentences. This extends to those who know of relatives who have left Uganda to enter same-sex partnerships in another country.

It is believed that the law will be used to penalize Ugandan gay rights organizations, and that it could also be exploited to shut down HIV/AIDS programs in Uganda. HIV/AIDS charities have been targeted by religious conservatives in the past because of their advocating safe-sex practices such as condom use.

“It will almost certainly lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors,” the gay rights group the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (ILGHRC), have said.

Perhaps the full, awful scope of this bill does not become clear until one reads that the proposed law would punish a citizen with life in prison for “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality”. How they will measure or define such an intention remains unclear. In fact, lack of clarity seems to be the entire basis of the bill, so as to give the authorities greater powers to victimize and, indeed, terrorize Ugandan LGBTs.

Speaking to Amnesty International, Daniel Molokele, the Africa program officer at the World AIDS Campaign, said:

“Discrimination and punitive laws like this aimed at marginalized groups and at those often among the most affected by HIV drive people underground and do nothing to help slow down the AIDS epidemic.”

The law also requires mandatory HIV/AIDS testing for those convicted on a charge relating to homosexuality, even if it is a lesser charge.

Amnesty International’s expert on sexual rights, Kate Shell, has condemned the proposed law as illegal, saying:

“Certain provisions in this bill are illegal; they are also immoral. They criminalize a sector of society for being who they are, when what the government should be doing instead is protecting them from discrimination and abuse.”

Read more of Amnesty International’s response here.

Last year, Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister said that homosexuality was a threat to national security, contending that gay and lesbian people, by their very nature, were “an attempt to end civilization”, calling homosexuality a Western phenomenon, but saying that “the disease has penetrated everywhere”.

The bill, which would violate several codes of the Ugandan constitution as it currently stands, has a clause in it rendering all other rights, such as the right to assemble and the right to free-speech, mute when in conjunction with the “offence” of homosexuality.

Insidiously, this law may have been influenced, in part, by anti-gay American religious conservatives who have praised Uganda for its tough stance on homosexuality. Truth Wins Out founder and director Wayne Besen writes:

Sadly, this witch-hunt has the blood stained fingerprints of leading American evangelicals. The Fellowship, (aka The Family) one of America’s most powerful and secretive fundamentalist organization’s, converted Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to its anti-gay brand of Christianity, which is the “intellectual” impetus behind the anti-gay crackdown. The clandestine organization’s leader, Doug Coe, calls Museveni The Fellowship’s “key man” in Africa. Jeff Sharlet, author of “The Family”, writes of the African strongman’s conversion:

“So,” Doug Coe told us, “my friend said to the president, ‘why don’t you come and pray with me in America? I have a good group of friends—senators, congressmen—who I like to pray with, and they’d like to pray with you.’ And that president came to the Cedars (a religious retreat), and he met Jesus. And his name is Yoweri Museveni…And he is a good friend of the Family.”

Read more about the role that certain American evangelicals may have played in Uganda’s new anti-gay law by clicking here.

It should be made explicitly clear, however, that a majority of religious institutions from around the world have reacted with strong condemnation for the death-penalty bill.

Will the bill pass? John Otekat Emile, an independent Ugandan MP, gave an interview to the BBC saying that the bill had a “99% chance” of passing if no one intervened.

But there is something we can do. The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Campaign (IGLHRC) have set up an urgent email initiative calling on the Ugandan Parliament to dismiss the bill. Click here now and help stop Uganda from passing this anti-gay law.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Steve Conover.


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36 comments

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1:06PM PST on Jan 23, 2010

Well, god exists and is crying. And not only on this matter. And we can also cry along... AND TAKE ACTION.
Please, do not let anyone around you say in the same sentence something like "god" and "homosexuals are dangerous for kids", like I hear looooots of people say all the time in France, whether they are muslims or christians or buddhists or animists, or even atheists, ok ?
And may I remind everyone that all mammals practice homosexuality, and bisexuality ?
Never hurt their spiecies, so far...
So please. In your bed : No god talk.
And in daytime talking : No "god-sex" mixing up.
Thank you.

7:29AM PST on Dec 18, 2009

Does anyone remember the historical precedents for this type of witch hunt? Mcarthy hearings, The Japanese internment camps during WWII, The Holocaust, The Inquisition? The burning times? This is the first step on a dangerous ladder to genocide. If we dont fight this now we will have another shameful chapter in our human history of vile bigotry against our fellow man. Please, tell everyone you know about this issue, spread the word, spread the information, and fight the good fight against hatred. If GOD existed at all he/she would be crying.

3:52PM PDT on Oct 28, 2009

Uganda is going to lose a lot of tourism.

1:55PM PDT on Oct 28, 2009

It is not surprising that things have gotten to this point!

Okay! How long has America been in Africa stealing its resources and infiltrating its people with American crap in exchange for food and basic resources? WTH???

African nations with tremendous resources have been raped by American and European nations. To pour salt on an open wound, in order for "good Christians" to help them, the people must now accept Jesus as their lord and savior and accept American indoctrination, including the hate and injustice that is ingrained in the American culture.

That is a bunch of crap and the chicken is coming home to roost. Oppression is worse than slaughter!

There is a spiritual price that America will pay for bringing this imbalance..it will come!

1:46PM PDT on Oct 28, 2009

We need to check ourselves and the way we treat one another in America and what we perpetuate abroad. Everyone is affected by our habits. Once again, the chicken is coming home to roost!

7:00PM PDT on Oct 27, 2009

Great this is just what we needed this is Sick and Disgusting i don't see who or what kind of person would support this its sick and im tire of all this so called religious people using the bible as excuse to go against this kinds of issues im sure their god teaches them and taugh to hate lets work together everyone to STOP this NOW and do the right thing!!!!

11:42PM PDT on Oct 26, 2009

This would be like saying you will be killed for developing blue eyes or brown hair. How insane! Every phylum, every group of animal includes gay members. How do they explain this by means of their assumption of "choice" and "preference?" If our anti-gay groups are partially responsible for these types of policies in other nations, we should be ashamed! God's word says we shalt not judge and so who are we to determine who should live or die, based on someone's sexual orientation? We cannot seem to get out own US affairs in order and we certainly are not promoting a healthy, safe country based on many of our own policies and choices. How dare we influence life and death matters of other countries, who have fewer resources and less modern technology to determine the genetic factor of sexual orientation? There have been many studies which indicate physiological differences between gay and heterosexual people. Given time, this will be indisputable, but what about those less fortunate, poor countries who do not have resources? A policy like this could be devestating, based on hatred, bigotry and bias rather than fact and that is unacceptable!

9:56PM PDT on Oct 26, 2009

It is very sad to see such intolerance of others and disgusting that it is instigated by so called Christians. Jesus was about love and understanding not hate and vengeance. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you was never so true or relevant. These people need to take a good look at themselves and think about the time when they will be judged by heavenly powers!

8:04PM PDT on Oct 26, 2009

The Ugandan genocide against us LGBTs has got me "aggravated" in the extreme!! It is fascist, Nazi hatefilled genocide and I am not at all surprised that USA homophobic hate-group "inspiration" and no doubt funding are also implicated. THIS IS WHY I ALWAYS AM STRESSING TO READERS THAT BEING LGBT IS NOT A "LIFESTYLE" OR A "CHOICE" BUT OUR REALITY - AND THAT WE NEED ALL THE ALLIES IN THE BATTLE FOR OUR SURVIVAL!

JOIN THE FIGHT FOR LOVE AND JUSTICE!

3:50PM PDT on Oct 26, 2009

This is evil, it is stunning. Gay rights ARE human rights.

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