In a move that will likely surprise no one, lawmakers in Uganda have once again introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009.
The legislation, which President Obama once called “odious”, was dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill for its death penalty provision for repeat offenders. However, the draft legislation is said to have been modified to drop that aspect of the bill.
A BBC correspondent says MPs laughed, clapped and cried out: “Our bill, our bill,” when its architect David Bahati reintroduced the draft legislation on Tuesday.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was shelved in 2011 after an international outcry.
The BBC’s Joshua Mmali in the capital, Kampala, says Mr Bahati, the primary backer of the bill, has confirmed the draft legislation has changed in one fundamental way.
Those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” – defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a “serial offender” – would no longer face the death penalty, as originally proposed.
This appears to be slightly inaccurate however. The ever vigilant Warren Throckmorton reports that the legislation tabled by MP Bahati contains no such change. Instead, word is the legislation could be changed at committee stage. Throckmorton has both the original bill and the proposed amended text. However, readers familiar with the legislation’s history will know that such assurances have been made before only for the bill to go to the voting stage in tact and without the death sentence deleted.
The legislation was originally introduced in 2009. Then, following an international outcry, action on the Bill stalled until last year when it came close to a full vote before a procedural oversight meant parliament ran out of time.
Though the 8th Parliament consistently flirted with the idea of striking the death penalty, that provision was never actually removed. The death penalty sits alongside the legislation’s other grave breaches of human rights, which include:
- A 7-year jail sentence for consenting adults who have gay sex;
- A life sentence for people in same-sex marriages;
- Extradition and prosecution of LGBT Ugandans living abroad;
- The death penalty for adults who have gay sex with minors or people with disabilities, consensual or no, or who communicate HIV via gay sex, regardless of condom usage or consent;
- Jail for anyone who doesn’t report suspected gay people within 24 hours;
- A ban on the “promotion” of homosexuality so open-ended that it would endanger HIV/AIDS treatment and sexual health clinics in the country and could effectively exclude gay people from petitioning the courts by making those representing them liable for criminal action;
- A mandate to break all ties with international commitments and laws opposing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
The parliamentary committee which reviewed the bill last session also recommended a number of additions to the bill, including a penalty on “conduct[ing] a marriage ceremony between persons of the same sex” which would be punishable by three years in prison.
MP David Bahati and supporters have made no secret of the animus behind the legislation, saying that it is vital to protect Uganda’s children from the evils of homosexuality, which they call a foreign disease.
We will continue to follow the situation regarding this bill as it unfolds.
To read more about the history of the bill, click here to view Care2′s past coverage.