Contrary to reports, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, known as the Kill the Gays bill for its death penalty provision, has not been shelved and, after the adjournment of Parliament today due to an entirely unrelated matter, the bill is scheduled to be brought to the floor on Friday.
The confusion over the bill’s status seems to have occurred due to it temporarily going missing from Parliament’s schedule. However, a later version showed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 to be listed as the last item for Parliament to take up.
Parliament officially ended Wednesday but remains constitutionally in place until the 18th. It is predicted that Friday is the very last day in this session that the bill can be acted on, though, with the 9th Parliament being sworn in on Monday.
However, there are hints that legislators are increasingly wary of the bill because of such strong reactions from both internal and external groups that have been calling on them to abandon the legislation. Read more on that here.
That said, parliamentary insiders have commented that it is possible the Anti-Homosexuality Bill could be forwarded to the 9th Parliament to be taken up along with other untouched pieces of legislation that still rest in the committee stage. However, per parliamentary rules, a single bill can not be forwarded so the Anti-Homosexuality Bill can not be singled out. More information can be found here.
Rumors have also circulated that the bill has been amended and the death penalty has been dropped. This is, at the time of writing, false as no amendments have yet been adopted due to the fact that the bill has not received a reading on the floor. That said, the committee report on the bill is expected to suggest a number of provisions be altered and that the death penalty be scrapped in favor of a longer jail term, but the exact details of the report are not known at this time.
This would hardly make the bill more palatable as it would still contain the following:
- 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;
- Jail for anyone who doesn’t report suspected gay people within 24 hours;
- A ban on the “promotion” of homosexuality which is so open-ended that it would endanger HiV/AIDS treatment and sexual health clinics in the country;
- A ban that could also be used to effectively exclude gay people from petitioning the courts by making those representing them liable for criminal action;
- Would break all ties with international commitments and laws opposing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill eroding Uganda’s own human rights protections and leaving others potentially vulnerable.
International petitions against the bill have exceeded 1.4 million signatures and counting. We will continue to update you on the status of the bill and surrounding factors as and when news becomes available.