A year after a law requiring life in prison for homosexual acts was thrown out in court, the parliament in Uganda has before it a new law that would outlaw the “promotion” of homosexuality.
Al-Jazeera says the bill has support on both sides of the aisle and scores high in polls with voters:
“We are going to retable it, the committee has done its work,” Latif Ssebaggala, MP, told AFP news agency on Thursday.
Ssebaggala is a member of the team drafting the bill, which also includes Vice President Edward Ssekandi….
…Cecilia Ogwal, the opposition chief whip, said they would support the bill.
“As long as homosexuals target and take advantage of our children and vulnerable people, the opposition will support an anti-gay law presented to us,” she said, according to the Daily Monitor newspaper.
While the life sentence is gone in favor of a shorter jail term, the definition of what can land one in jail has broadened. The Monitor:
“The new proposal is following the common thread of The Anti-Homosexuality Act. The only differences are minor changes in the use of words,” he said.
In contrast to the nullified Act, the new Bill avoids any explicit references to homosexuality, but seems to co-opt sections of the Penal Code, which prescribe, among others, a life sentence for “unnatural sexual practices.”
Unnatural sexual practices are defined in the draft Bill as a sexual act between persons of the same sex, or with or between transsexual persons, a sexual act with an animal and anal sex.
The proposed legislation also expands the definition of “promotion of unnatural sexual practices” and proposes a prison sentence of up to seven years for the promotion of homosexuality.
Funding for purposes of “promoting unnatural sexual practice” and protecting, housing or transporting homosexuals can also result in imprisonment of up to 10 year
There is fear that the law will be a license for more violence against LGBTQ people in Uganda.
According to a leaked copy of the new draft bill, MPs have focused on outlawing the “promotion” of homosexuality, something that activists said made it far more repressive and wide-reaching, with a proposed sentence of up to seven years in jail.
Activists have cautioned the East African nation that the revival of such legislation will result in violence against gays.
The country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, wants the churches to support the bill. The Monitor:
President Museveni has asked the Church and civil society to support government in the fight against homosexuality, saying the vice has become a danger among the young generation.
The President also requested the clergy to continue preaching against the increasing moral degeneration, saying this has led to the rise of HIV/Aids epidemic among the youth.
Mr Museveni made the calls in a speech read for him by the Minister of Security, Mr Muruli Mukasa, at the consecration of North Mbale Diocese Bishop Samuel Gidudu at the weekend. He said any clergy who presides over a wedding of a gay couple should be blacklisted and isolated from the Church because the act is not only against the Bible teachings but also the African norms and traditions.
Writing in the Monitor, the Rev. Amos Kasibante, who is Racial Justice Adviser in the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales, says that Uganda has a morality crisis–and it is not about sexuality.
It is a matter for debate, the extent to which this objective has been achieved. What is not in doubt is that our national pride would be hurt if we were told that Uganda and Nigeria are among the most corrupt countries in Africa.
Many Ugandan-based moralisers rail against what they regard as the moral decadence of Western societies and seek to return the population, especially the youth, to our indigenous, African cultural and moral values.
The popular candidates for moral opprobrium are pornography, drugs, homosexuality, casual sex, teenage pregnancy, abortion, and prostitution. And yet, you are probably more likely to be defrauded of your money, land or house in Uganda and Nigeria than in supposedly morally decadent USA, Germany, Sweden or Canada.
An outside observer may be forgiven for concluding that the content of what constitutes moral discourse is sex-related or skewed on the subject of sexual morality. Moreover, what goes for moral debate in Uganda is often imbued with moral rhetoric, censure, and stigma rather than reason and open-mindedness.
In August, President Yoweri Museveni said he wanted the law amended to remove penalties for consenting adults. Ssebagala said however the new version still punished gay sex among consenting adults.
In October the president wrote in a newspaper that re-introducing the law risked triggering a trade boycott by the West.
Analysts say Museveni – expected to run for re-election in 2016 – is walking a tightrope, trying to appease his conservative domestic constituency while wary of alienating donors who finance about 20 percent of Uganda’s budget.