A new Private Members Bill – Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 – has been tabled in the Uganda Parliament which would allow for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. The Bill also carries a sentence of life imprisonment for being or committing the offense of homosexuality, 7 years for attempted homosexuality and anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality or anybody who keeps a house or room for the purpose of homosexuality.”
A person commits aggravated homosexuality when the victim is a person with disability or below the age of 18, or when the offender is HIV-positive. The bill thus equates aggravated homosexuality to aggravated defilement among people of different sexes, which also carries the death sentence.
Any NGO or organisation which supports LGBTI people will have it’s license revoked and the director would be liable to 7 years in prison. In short the Bill not only criminalizes same sex relations but also advocacy and public discussion in any arena whether the media, public institutions and even in the private sphere of one’s own home. There is no protection for any LGBTI person against any member of the public physically attacking them, evicting them from their home or firing them from their work. Activists with SMUG – Sexual Minorities Uganda report that already there has been increases in violence against LGBTI.
Over the recent months increased campaigns of violence have gone uncontrolled. The violence directed at Homosexual Ugandans has resulted in the unwarranted arrests of many people; there are eight ongoing cases in various courts all over Uganda of which four accused persons are unable to meet the harsh bail conditions set against them. These acts of violence have now resulted in the deaths of several homosexual people, such as
Brian Pande at Mbale Hospital as he awaited trial. This bill aggravates stigma and hatred; and renders all promised protections enshrined in the constitution for all Ugandan citizens void.
Backed by religious leaders countries like Uganda and Nigeria are increasingly dictating on morality and invading the personal lives of people whether women as in the case with the indecent dress code Bill or same sex relationships as with proposed Homophobia Bills [Same Sex Marriage Bill in Nigeria]. For the past 5 years human rights defenders in Uganda and Nigeria have been struggling against homophobic legislation, public outings by the media, harassment and arrests for being gay and lesbian. Now it is time for an human rights defenders from across the continent to work together with SMUG in Uganda to prevent this Bill from being passed. Frank Mugisha of SMUG explains in detail the implications of the Bill for all Ugandans.