Reports: Uganda’s anti-gay bill now law

President Yoweri Museveni is believed to have signed the anti-gay bill into law, punishing gay people with life imprisonment

Reports: Uganda’s anti-gay bill now law
18 February 2014

Uganda’s president has signed the anti-gay bill into law, unconfirmed reports claim.

After President Yoweri Museveni has given his assent to the Anti-Pornography Bill, gay rights activists on the ground have said the Ugandan government is delaying the announcement of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The bill was previously dubbed the ‘Kill the Gays Bill’. The death penalty has now been dropped but it still punishes ‘aggravated’ homosexuality, including repeat offenders, with life-imprisonment.

It will also be illegal to ‘promote homosexuality’, and to refuse to report homosexuals to the police.

A series of tweets from Uganda’s Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo appears to confirm the reports that the draconic legislation has been signed.

‘We would rather die poor than risk losing our dignity. We have confirmed there is no genetic composition that brings up homosexuality,’ he said.

‘I am happy, I am rejoicing the anti-gay bill.’

Meanwhile, Uganda’s government spokesperson Ofwondo Opondo has defended the bill as constitutional and has slammed US president Barack Obama for slamming the homophobic legislation.

Obama, who once referred to the proposed law as ‘odious’, says the relationship between the US and Uganda would become more complicated if it is approved – describing it as an affront and a danger to the LGBT community. The US is one of Uganda’s largest donors.

‘When the rant of gay activists is done over the Bill, the world will move on,’ Opondo said in response.

‘Those opposed to article anti-gay bill should read article 91 Uganda constitution.’

Article 91 refers to parliament’s power to legislate and to create laws for the betterment of Ugandan society. Elsewhere in the constitution, such as articles 21, 23 and 36, protects Ugandans have a right to equality and freedom from discrimination, protection of personal liberty, and gives protection to the rights of minorities.

‘There are states in USA where homosexuality is illegal, can Obama handle them first?’ Opondo continued.

‘A Catholic priest in Springfield, Virginia has just expelled Boy Scouts over gays. Colorado and Washington DC allow marijuana smoking, will Obama force Ugandans too?

‘Owning a gun is a right in the USA, will Obama advocate the same rights for Arabs and Africans?’

Frank Mugisha, director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), emphasized that the reports of Museveni signging the Anti-Homosexuality Bill are unconfirmed.

Ugandan gay activist Edwin Sesange, of the Africa LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, told Gay Star News it was no longer safe for him to return home.

Edwin Sesange is the director of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group and a Ugandan currently in the UK. He says it is no longer safe for him to return home.

He said: ‘I am very saddened by the news and the fact he has ignored all our appeals to him and the appeals from the international leaders. The bill violates the constitution, African rights and international laws.

‘He made his decision based on this flawed scientific report. So first we need to challenge that scientific report.

‘We also need to go to the courts now as the bill has been signed without a quorum [in parliament]. And we need to campaign against the bill.

‘He has publicly declared a war against LGBTI lobbyists. So I cannot now go back to Uganda. Our work is now illegal in Uganda.

‘The LGBTI people in Uganda, I can’t imagine what it must be like for them. People are going to persecute them. Even today I have received messages threatening me, so I can’t imagine what it must be like in Uganda.’

Once the bill is confirmed to be law, this article will be updated.

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