Politics
2 min

‘Kill the Gays’ bill back before Ugandan parliament

UPDATE: For the second time this week the Ugandan parliament adjourned without debating the “kill gays” bill.

Speaker Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuk said there was no time to take up the bill in the current session.

Although the temporary respite is seen as a victory the bill is still up for debate and will come before parliament in the next session. According to the BBC David Bahati, the MP who introduced the bill would try to re-introduce it when the next parliament convened after February's elections.

Bahati said it had achieved his goal of sparking debate.

There has been talk all week about the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill going back before parliament. It was originally scheduled for discussion Wednesday, March 11 but was withdrawn at the last moment.

It is back on the table, leaving the fate of homosexuals in Uganda in the hands of a homophobic government.

Homophobic sentiment has become one of the rallying principles behind President Museveni’s government. MP David Bahati, who says that the Western world is to blame for homosexuality, brought the bill before parliament in 2009.

The “Kill the Gays” bill would make homosexuality a capital offence punishable by death. It extends existing laws to make it illegal to promote homosexuality by writing or talking about it, and it forces people who know gays to report them to the authorities.

Bahati claims he has removed the harshest aspect of the bill — the death penalty — but there is no evidence of the amendment.

 

Xtra has looked at the rise of homophobia through a series of articles by Kaj Hasselriis.

In one of Hasselriis’s reports, he wrote about the reaction of villagers to US President Barack Obama’s stand on the anti-homosexuality bill. The villagers marched in protest carrying signs with one unifying message — that homosexuality is evil.

The march seemed tame compared to Hasselriis’s next report, which highlighted how deep the bigotry ran. In a forum called Human Rights and Sexual Orientation, MP Otto Odonga went on record to affirm that he would kill his own son if he was a homosexual.

Hasselriis's assessment of the seven weeks he spent in Uganda was summarized in one sentence: “The white man got Ugandans into this mess, but only the white man can get them out.”

Since Hasselriis left Uganda, the situation has worsened.

A Ugandan newspaper published the names of 100 gays with a headline reading "Hang Them." The Ugandan High Court ordered an injunction against the publication, prohibiting it from reporting additional names, but the damage had already been done.

For one man, David Kato, the damage could never be undone. He was an openly gay man who had no compunction in speaking out against homophobia.

Kato was killed near the capital city of Kampala early this year. 

With the bill scheduled to go before parliament, international pressure is once again mounting against Uganda.

The US State Department described the bill as “odious,” and England’s Foreign Secretary says his country is lobbying Uganda not to pass it.

Ordinary citizens have been doing their bit, too — an online petition has amassed 1.4 million signatures.