Life in prison a possibility after Ugandan MPs passes anti-homosexuality bill.
The Ugandan Parliament has passed a law which could see thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the region jailed for life.
The law was first introduced in 2009 – and sparked world-wide condemnation – a petition by AllOut to Uganda’s President, Yoweri Musevni, reached nearly 250,000 people.
In the original draft of the bill, lawmakers had suggested a death sentence tariff for “aggravated homosexuality”, which would have included: sex where one person is infected with HIV, serial offenders and sex with minors.
The law was post-poned after the world’s media shone a spotlight on the proposal, with President Obama calling the bill ‘odious’.
Human Rights groups have called upon President Yoweri Museveni to veto the bill. In order for the bill to become law, it requires his signature in 30 days.
Deputy Africa Director at Amnesty International, Aster van Kregten, said:
“President Museveni must veto this wildly discriminatory legislation, which amounts to a grave assault on human rights and makes a mockery of the Ugandan constitution.
“Passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was a retrograde step for Uganda’s Parliament, which has made some important progress on human rights in recent years, including criminalising torture. It flies in the face of the Ugandan government’s stated commitment to ensure all legislation complies with human rights.”
‘The new anti-gay law violates Article 21 of the Ugandan constitution and Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights – both of which guarantee equal treatment and non-discrimination to all people,” said human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
‘It is part of a broader attack on civil society and is symptomatic of Uganda’s drift to Mugabe-style authoritarianism. This wider repression includes a clamp down on protests, strikes, the media and opposition activists.’
‘Ugandans have been anxiously waiting for this bill. This day will be a good day for all Ugandans,’said Benson Obua Ogwal, a member of parliament for Moroto.
The law maker of the new piece of legislation, David Bahati said:
“This is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children.”
Summary of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
“The Bill extends the existing penalty of life imprisonment for same-sex intercourse to all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have homosexual relations,” added Mr Tatchell.
“Life imprisonment is also the penalty for contracting a same-sex marriage.
“Promoting homosexuality and aiding and abetting others to commit homosexual acts will be punishable by five to seven years jail. These new crimes are likely to include membership and funding of LGBT organisations, advocacy of LGBT human rights, supportive counselling of LGBT persons and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people.
“A person in authority – gay or heterosexual – who fails to report violators to the police within 24 hours will be sentenced to three years behind bars.
“Astonishingly, the new legislation has an extra-territorial jurisdiction. It will also apply to Ugandan citizens or foreign residents of Uganda who commit these ‘crimes’ while abroad, in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda.
“This bill is in some respects even more draconian than the extreme homophobic laws of countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran,” added Mr Tatchell.