Monday, December 3, 2012

Uganda Parliament Set to Pass ’Kill the Gays’

Uganda Parliament Set to Pass ’Kill the Gays’

by Jason St. Amand

Uganda’s parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
Uganda’s parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga.  
Uganda’s government officials could pass an anti-gay legislation, known as the "kill the gays bill," by Christmas as the East African country’s parliament is set to debate the issue, the (U.K.) Guardian reports.
Rebecca Kadaga, Uganda’s parliament speaker, announced that lawmakers would discuss the legislation soon and they are committed to passing it by the end of the year. But LGBT activists in Uganda are urging civil rights organizations around the world to take notice. They and activists abroad fear that the controversial bill could even be passed by the end of the week. According to Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the proposed bill could be up for debate in the next few days.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Kadaga said the legislation will become law in 2012. She claims that Uganda citizens "are demanding it" and that gay men and woman are a "serious threat" to children in the country. AP points out that some Christian clerics who met in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, have urged Kadaga to pass the law as "a Christmas gift."
Originally, the bill called for the death penalty for some gay acts, but it was revised and now aims to "prohibit and penalize homosexual behavior and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family."
Both gay marriage and any form of same-sex relationship are illegal in Uganda; the country’s penal code criminalizes homosexuality. In 2009, lawmaker David Bahati wanted stronger laws to "protect" Uganda’s children from LGBT people and introduced the controversial bill that same year. Gay men and lesbians in the country can be sent to prison up to 14 years for their orientation. The new bill would make the current legislation even stricter.
Although there has been some confusion about what would happen if the legislation goes into law, the Box Turtle Bulletin reports that even if the death penalty provision is removed, there are still 18 other clauses that call for "barbaric regression for Uganda’s human rights record."
California-based anti-gay pastor Scott Lively, who championed the "kill the gays" bill and even visited Uganda in 2009 to help create the legislation, is quoted in a piece for the ultra-conservative Christian website World Net Daily and says he "supports the nation’s strong stance against homosexual behavior." It seems as though he was so ecstatic about the news in Uganda that he even took to his own blog to comment on the issue.
’Death and imprisonment are sentences that should be reserved for only the worst crimes, not for living openly and loving who you choose.’
"This is a huge blessing for Uganda and for me personally after having been vilified globally (and falsely) for two years by the leftist media as the accused mastermind of the death penalty provision," he wrote.
Lively is currently being sued by Sexual Minorities of Uganda, which claims that he encouraged the murders of LGBT activists in the country while he was there on missionary work.
LGBT groups from the West have condemned the proposed bill since its creation and now are calling for Uganda’s government to dismiss the bill.
"Death and imprisonment are sentences that should be reserved for only the worst crimes, not for living openly and loving who you choose," Andre Banks, All Out’s executive director said in a statement. "Ugandans are calling upon their government to put an end to the ’Kill the Gays’ bill once and for all. 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."

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement that the bill "flies in the face of all decent human decency by punishing and murdering people simply for who they are" and urges supports to voice their concerns.
"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," he added.
Additionally, Sexual Minorities of Uganda also spoke out against the legislation. "This bill won’t stop us," the group’s executive director, Frank Mugisha, said. "We will continue to fight until we are free of this legislation. We cannot have oppression forever." 

Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has spoken out against the bill and has praised LGBT groups in Uganda. Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has gone a step further, and has tied foreign aid to the African country to passage of the bill.

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