Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

December 1, 2009

Last month, the African nation of Uganda proposed an anti-homosexuality bill, making anyone caught engaging in homosexuality liable to be sentenced to life in prison. Homosexuals, who are HIV positive and knowingly take part in a sexual act or engage in sex with an individual under the age of 18, are liable to be sentenced to death under the crime of “aggravated homosexuality”.

Speaker Edward Sekandi told Daily Monitor that the new legislation was necessary “to do whatever we can to stop” homosexuality in Uganda. “We don’t support that practice.”

However, the global response has been anything but supportive of the initiative.

Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said, “This draft bill is clearly an attempt to divide and weaken civil society by striking at one of its most marginalized groups.  The government may be starting here, but who will be next?”

The United States has said they will continue  President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding to Uganda despite the antigay violence.  QUEERTY, a gay blog, writes that the PEPFAR coordinator’s decision is  “…propping up a nation that still treats HIV as “the gay disease,” that further stigmatizez the queer community, and is now calling for the murder of anyone who dares involve themselves in same-sex sex.”

Truthwinsout.org comments on why they don’t support the PEPFAR decision. “HIV/AIDS in Uganda is primarily a heterosexual phenomenon; Goosby falsely contends that it is a homosexual phenomenon that threatens the “general population and the bill would criminalize key aspects of comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention education and imprison health-care workers who refuse to report sexually active gay patients to the police.”

Uganda, the outgoing chair of the Commonwealth,  is expected to promote, among other issues, human rights as part of their membership in the international organization.

But, Times Online quoted Stephen Lewis, the former UN envoy on Aids in Africa, as saying Uganda’s bill goes against the Commonwealth’s principles, stating, “Nothing is as stark, punitive and redolent of hate as the Bill in Uganda.”

The proposed anti-homosexual bill also threatens anyone found promoting homosexuality or anyone who fails to report known homosexuality activity.

The bill is currently making its way through the country’s Parliament.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries.  Currently, South Africa is the only nation on the continent that legally allows gay marriage.

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