By Anna Peirano
Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill may become law by the end of 2012. Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga described the bill’s passing as a “Christmas gift” for the Ugandan people, who “are demanding it.”
Anti-gay activists have been trying to get the bill passed since 2009, citing “the serious threat” posed by homosexuals to Uganda’s children.
Uganda has faced a great deal of criticism on an international level. Several European countries have threatened to reduce aid to Uganda if the bill is passed, including the UK whose government has warned Uganda it would face severe reductions in financial help.
Homosexuality is already considered illegal in the country, but the passing of this law will divide it into two categories: aggravated homosexuality and the offense of homosexuality.
“Aggravated homosexuality” is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. A conviction carries the death penalty. The “offense of homosexuality” includes same-sex sexual acts or being in a gay relationship, which will be prosecuted by life imprisonment.
The anti-gay activists behind the movement issued a petition to Ugandan Parliament and Speaker Kadaga which read:
“Speaker, we cannot sit back while such (a) destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation. We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament … so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation.”
Ugandan lawmaker Atim Ogwal Cecilia Barbara said the law should transcend the borders of Uganda, suggesting a continent-wide ban on homosexuality.
President Obama has described the bill as ‘odious,’ and Canadian politician John Baird said it was ‘vile, abhorrent, and offends decency.’
Throughout Africa, gay rights activists have struggled for progress. David Kato was murdered in Uganda in January of 2011 after a newspaper published images of of him with others under a headline calling on readers to ‘hang them.’
Homosexuality is currently illegal in 76 countries – 38 of them in Africa. Despite discrimination, there were a number of gay pride celebrations held throughout 2012 across the continent in celebration of an LGBT community refusing to remain silent.