Uganda’s 9th Parliament appears to be acting quickly to ensure that the country’s now infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill gets a hearing as soon as possible, and perhaps as early as the end of August.
Uganda’s 8th Parliament failed to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, nicknamed the Kill the Gays bill for its death penalty provision for repeat offenders, before the end of its tenure in May of this year. However, lawmakers seem keen to make up for lost time with Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a close follower of the bill’s progress, reporting that MP Hon. Otto Odonga told him in a recent phone call the legislation will be resurrected by lawmakers perhaps as soon as “by the end of August.”
Commentators were unsure whether Uganda’s lawmakers would have to go through the process of re-introducing the legislation, with the inherent procedural hurdles to once again navigate, or whether Parliament would be within its power to carry over the bill alongside other legislation that was not voted on last session.
It now appears the legislation has been carried over alongside a bill to reform marriage and divorce proceedings and a Government Assurances bill, meaning that when Parliament does take up the anti-gay legislation (and their determination to pass this bill suggests it is a “when” and not an “if” at this point) progress toward passage will likely be swift.
Though the 8th Parliament consistently flirted with the idea of striking the death penalty, that provision was never actually removed and therefore it still 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.
As is the case with the general style of politics in Uganda, a great deal remains uncertain — what is not, however, is that the Parliament appears set on enacting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
MP Vows to Persevere with ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill
Ugandan Parliament Committee Backs Death Penalty Inclusive Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Ugandan LGBT Rights Activist Given Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award