Uganda’s proposed ‘Kill the Gays’ bill has been placed on the schedule of the country’s Parliament and can be debated as early as Thursday (22 November) or sometime over the next several weeks.
Andre Banks, Executive Director for All Out, a global movement fighting for LGBT equality, spoke out against the bill on Wednesday (21 November).
‘Death and imprisonment are sentences that should be reserved for only the worst crimes, not for living openly and loving who you choose,’ Banks said in a statement. ‘All Out members from all over the world have stood with Ugandans before, and today they have take up that call again. We will not rest until this bill is deposited in the waste bin of history.’
The anti-Homosexuality bill has faced international criticism with several European countries threatening to cut aid to Uganda if it passes. The UK, for example, has warned Uganda it would face severe reductions in financial help.
US President Barack Obama has described it as ‘odious’, and Canadian politician John Baird has said it is ‘vile, abhorrent, and offends decency.’
But Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, has said the anti-gay bill will become law because most Ugandans ‘are demanding it’ and referred to it as a ‘Christmas gift’ to the population.
The law will broaden the criminalization of same-sex relationships by dividing homosexuality into two categories; aggravated homosexuality and the offense of homosexuality.
‘Aggravated homosexuality’ is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. If convicted, they will face the death penalty.
The ‘offense of homosexuality’ includes same-sex sexual acts or being in a gay relationship, and will be prosecuted by life imprisonment.
The bill is expected to easily pass Parliament. It will then be up to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to veto the bill. If he does so, his veto could be overturned by the assembly.
The bill was originally put to the government in 2009 but was temporarily shelved because of international criticism. It resurfaced after Kadaga became speaker last year.
‘At the time, we knew there was a chance it might resurface,’ Banks said. ‘The speaker vowed to bring back the bill, and we vowed to stand with our partners in Uganda and fight if she did.’