Yesterday, the Ugandan Parliament added a bill to its schedule that would sentence LGBT people in Uganda to death. According to reports from international news providers like Agence France-Press and LGBT news sites including Towleroad, the bill might be debated as early as today or over the next several weeks.
Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, recently told the Associated Press that the anti-gay bill would be a "Christmas gift" to the population.
The bill shifts attention away from laws and policies that would benefit Ugandan society as a whole, such as addressing corruption, land-grabbing, as well as the suppression of media freedom and civil society space. Instead the bill scapegoats the LGBT population.
Sexual Minorities Uganda's Frank Mugisha, who has fearlessly worked to prevent the bill from becoming law, detailed the bill's draconian provisions in an email today:
"Any person alleged to be homosexual would be at risk of life imprisonment or in some circumstances the death penalty"
"Any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the authorities would face fines of $2,650 or three years in prison"
"Any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil to the authorities within 24 hours would face the same penalties"
"And any landlord or landlady who happens to give housing to a suspected homosexual would risk 7 years of imprisonment"
Mugisha also wrote: "All of the offences covered by the Bill as drafted can be applied to a Ugandan citizen who allegedly commits them - even outside the country of Uganda! At the very least, the bill violates all principle human rights and if enacted, it would contravene 8 articles of Uganda's own constitution. It not only violates the Constitution of Uganda but Uganda's international human rights obligations, and also stifles debate, undermines Civil Society and demeans the common citizenship of all Ugandans."
"We all must speak out against this bill - which flies in the face of all decent human decency by punishing and murdering people simply for who they are," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "As Americans pause to be grateful for their family and friends on Thanksgiving, our thoughts are with those brave people in Uganda working to fight this hateful law."
Gay Star News reports that the bill is expected to 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.
In 2010, The White House released a statement condemning the legislation:
The president strongly opposes efforts, such as the draft law pending in Uganda, that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history.
GLAAD is sharing this news along with steps that can be taken to prevent LGBT Ugandans from being sent to prison or murdered for who they are with national media today. We urge you to speak to your own friends and family and encourage them to also take action.