- Views & Opinions
The Ugandan parliament on Dec. 20 sent to the president a bill that punishes “aggravated homosexuality” with life imprisonment.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has indicated he does not favor the measure, but it was not clear on Friday whether he would sign the measure in the next month.
And some in Uganda challenged that the bill was passed without public notice and possibly with an insufficient quorum.
The legislation would set life imprisonment as the penalty for a homosexual act where one of the partners is infected with HIV, sex with minors and the disabled, as well as repeated sexual offenses among consenting adults, according to a report from The AP.
The bill also would allow for a seven-year jail term for a person who marries same-sex couples and would require that “persons in authority, including persons exercising religious or social authority to report offences under the Act within twenty four hours or else face imprisonment for three years or a fine.”
“Representatives of the Ugandan government have launched a shameful sneak attack on their own people. If this bill becomes law, countless LGBT Ugandans will be condemned to violence or prison,” said Chad Griffin, president of the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign. “The United States government has a moral obligation to use every tool at its disposal to put a stop to this legislation.”
The measure previously included the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and was known as the “Kill the Gays” bill. It was drafted and circulated with the support of anti-gay U.S. evangelists, such as Scott Lively, who is facing trial in the United States for his role in the persecution of LGBT people in Uganda.
Lively also advocated for anti-gay legislation in Russia.
“Perhaps most disgusting is the fact that American extremists have worked tirelessly in the name of Christianity to see this bill passed,” Griffin said. “True people of faith know that calling for the imprisonment of an entire community is not in line with Christian values. American Christian faith leaders with ties to Uganda must speak out and call on their colleagues in Uganda to oppose this bill from becoming law.”
Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda has filed the complaint of human rights abuses against Lively. On Dec. 20, Mugisha said of the legislative vote: “I’m outraged and disappointed that the Uganda parliament has acted in a very ignorant and irrational way. We shall fight this legislation to the end.”