Written by Kevin Dunne.
Millions of Americans are already eagerly awaiting the holiday season, but for some Ugandans, the season may come with grim news. On Tuesday, the 13th, parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga announced that she wanted an “anti-gay law” passed as a “Christmas gift” for Ugandans (Reuters).
The proposed bill would punish homosexuals in severe and harsh ways, the most severe of which would be prison sentences. Not only does the legislation punish homosexuals, but any who support homosexuality, be it landlords or activists, are also subject to imprisonment. Originally, the bill was introduced back in 2009 and called for the death penalty for homosexuals, but it seems that life imprisonment is the worst punishment. The African country has already outlawed homosexuality, so the point of the bill is to disallow funding or sponsorship of homosexuality. Elias Biryabarema reports that, “Homosexuality is taboo in many African nations. It is illegal in 37 countries on the continent, including Uganda, and activists say few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and loss of jobs” (Reuters). Many countries have condemned the legislation.
Aid to the country is threatened should the parliamentary committee choose to pass the bill. President Obama has also denounced the bill, along with John Baird, the Canadian Foreign Minister, who chastised Kadaga for her actions. FOX News reports that “Gay rights activists in Uganda, while opposing the bill, point out that it has helped their fight for equality by putting what used to be a taboo subject on the national agenda.”
Even with all of the opposition and the attention it’s garnered, the bill may still be passed. A majority of Ugandans are in favor of the bill, including some clerics, which is one of the reasons Kadaga was prompted to reintroduce the bill. The “serious threat” homosexuals seem to pose to Ugandans has put President Yoweri Museveni in a dilemma to meet the demands of two large groups. With the Ugandan parliament’s Christmas recess fast approaching, the harrowing bill may be passed within the year. In a country where homosexuals are already persecuted, this bill would be even more detrimental to the civil rights of an untold number of people.