The Ugandan Parliament is poised to bring back a bill that would sentence lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people to death in the next couple of weeks.
In a recent speech, Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan parliament, promised to bring a vote on the proposed law, which was first introduced in 2009, as ‘a Christmas gift’ to the population. Millions around the world have joined Ugandans in calling for the end of the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill. After weeks of posturing, the bill was officially added to the Parliament’s schedule today.
Homosexual acts are already considered a crime in Uganda, punishable by up to 14 years in prison. While the final bill has not been made publicly available, allegedly the proposed law – nicknamed the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill – makes the existing legislation even stricter. It establishes life imprisonment as the punishment for being in a same-sex relationship and the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’, which is loosely defined as a homosexual act committed by an HIV-positive person or acts with minors. So-called ‘serial offenders’ would also face the death penalty.
‘Death and imprisonment are sentences that should be reserved for only the worst crimes, not for living openly and loving who you choose,’ says Andre Banks, Executive Director for All Out, a global movement fighting for LGBT equality. ‘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 taken up that call again. We will not rest until this bill is deposited in the waste bin of history.’
Back in 2011, a version of the bill was introduced and more than 500,000 people signed an All Out petition over only three days. ‘At the time, we knew there was a chance it might resurface. The speaker vowed to bring back the bill, and we vowed to stand with our partners in Uganda and fight if she did,’ says Andre Banks.
The bill has been scheduled for an ‘order of business to follow’ and could be voted on today (22 november 2012), or any time thereafter. It is expected to easily pass, and then it will be up to the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, to veto the bill. If vetoed, this could then be overturned by the assembly.
Ugandans have been fighting back against the bill since 2009 when David Bahati first introduced it. The bill was shelved after Ugandans and the international community decried the legislation, until Rebecca Kadaga resurfaced the bill when she became speaker back in 2011.
‘This bill won’t stop us,’ said Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). ‘We will continue to fight until we are free of this legislation. We cannot have oppression forever.’
To help in the fight, you can sign the petition here.