It was revealed today by a spokeswoman for Uganda’s parliament that a long-shelved law that punishes homosexuality with life imprisonment was passed by lawmakers.
The new law was originally known as the ‘Kill The Gays’ bill by media as it included the death penalty for some acts of homosexuality. Thankfully, this clause was left out. However, citizens still face life in prison for ‘aggravated homosexuality’, interpreted as multiple offences. Furthermore, the bill makes it firmly illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality, and people not reporting homosexual activities also face jail time.
The LGBT community is naturally fearful of this latest piece of homophobic legislation and fear a ‘hunt’ if the law is signed by the President, which could be as early as tomorrow. LGBT activist Frank Mugisha said that the motion had caught everyone off guard. “All of us were unaware. We are going to oppose the bill because it is very unconstitutional. We will do everything we can to oppose it.”
The international community had already condemned the legislation as it lay shelved by the government since 2009. US President Barack Obama labelled it “odious”. The Ugandan government has conceded that such a bill risks cuts in aid from other countries but argued that a “tough new law was needed because homosexuals from the West threatened to destroy Ugandan families”. The lawmakers accuse homosexuals of recruiting young Ugandan children into gay lifestyles.
The bill was passed as a ‘Christmas present’ to the nation, after the government had promised to clean up shelved legislation. On Thursday, an Anti-Pornography Bill was also passed – banning miniskirts and sexually suggestive material. Uganda is a socially conservative country and homosexuality is already illegal. This latest piece of legislation puts pressure on the already persecuted LGBT community who are mainly underground and living in constant fear.