Following vocal condemnation from US political leaders, human rights groups, and activists, the Uganda Parliament decided to drop an anti-gay bill, which would impose life sentences or the death penalty for gay people. The bill went before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Friday and was originally scheduled for a vote today before it was dropped from the Parliament’s agenda.
David Bahati, a member of the Ugandan Parliament and one of the principle leaders of the Family or Fellowship of C Street fame (see Jeff Sharlet’s latest book on C Street), first introduced the bill in 2009. Bahati stated that a new version of the bill exists, which does not call for the death penalty, although that version has not been publically released.
Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa, stated, “It is deeply alarming that the Ugandan parliament is again considering this appalling bill, which flies in the face of human decency and violates international human rights law.”
Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch, clarified, “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the government’s violent crackdown on peaceful protests seen in recent weeks are evidence of a diminishing space for human rights in Uganda. We strongly urge the Ugandan parliament to reject the bill immediately.”
Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries with the exception of South Africa, which recognizes gay marriage, but even there, anti-gay practices such as “corrective rapes” on lesbians, are commonplace.
Also in Uganda yesterday, hundreds of anti-government protestors, participating in “Walk to Work” demonstrations against the high prices of commodities and fuel, were sprayed by police and military officials with a pink liquid. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 25 years, announced his plans to change the law to deny bail to arrested protestors.