The now infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, known as the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill for its death penalty provision, received its first committee hearing on Friday and reports suggest it may be voted on within the next 72 hours.
Parliament officially ends May 18 but it is expected that most parliamentary affairs will be completed this week and as such advocates are warning that the bill may be hurried through committee to a full floor vote by Wednesday.
More from the IGLHRC:
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned at reports that the now infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda may be passed by that country’s Parliament. The Bill, first introduced in October 2009, was ostensibly “shelved” by Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni following an international outcry. However, public hearings on the Bill took place today in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. The remaining stages of the legislative process – namely second and third readings of the bill and presidential adoption – could be completed within the remaining week of the current parliamentary session.
“We are shocked that after more than 2 years of engagement with the government of Uganda about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, this heinous piece of legislation may still become law,” said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Executive Director. “Governments, world religious and political leaders, and HIV prevention experts have all appealed to Ugandan parliamentarians to put their distaste and fear of LGBT people aside and use their better judgment for the good of the country.”
The Bill reaffirms existing penalties for consensual same-sex relationships, and criminalizes the “promotion of homosexuality” and failure to report homosexual activity. The Parliamentary Committee itself has said that the provisions of the Bill are redundant and unnecessary. Most controversially, the Bill would punish “aggravated homosexuality” –- including activity by “serial offenders” or those who are HIV positive –- with the death penalty. To IGLHRC’s knowledge, the provisions related to the death penalty remain part of the Bill, despite statements by the Bill’s author that these would be removed. The Bill not only violates multiple protections guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda, but also contravenes the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party.
“There can be no reason to pass this Bill other than to take the attention of Ugandans — and the rest of the world — away from the fact that Uganda is slipping into political chaos,” stated Johnson. “Clearly the issue of homosexuality is being used to deflect attention from the crackdown on democracy and freedom of speech that has led to at least 5 deaths, more than 100 injuries, and hundreds of arrests in the last month. IGLHRC stands firm with all the people of Uganda as they struggle to maintain their freedom and dignity.”
Friday’s testimony before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee saw key proponent Martin Ssempa allege the legislation is necessary to prevent homosexuals recruiting children. Read more here.
The bill’s author, David Bahati, continues to flirt with the idea of removing the death penalty clause in favor of forced corrective or reparative therapy or a longer jail term, however, at the time of writing, no change has been made and the death penalty is still present in the text of the bill.
Testimony on the bill is expected to conclude Monday, therefore a vote could conceivably happen at any time thereafter.
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To read more about the history of the bill, click here to view Care2′s past coverage.