Main | Friday, November 23, 2012

Uganda May Vote On Anti-Gay Bill Today

Earlier this month we learned that Uganda's infamous "Kill The Gays" bill was being pushed to a vote as a "Christmas gift to Christians."  Alerts went out yesterday that the bill may be voted upon as soon as today.  This morning the BBC reported a claim the the death penalty has been been dropped from the legislation.
A committee of Ugandan MPs has endorsed the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill but dropped the death penalty provision, an MP has told the BBC. MP Medard Segona said "substantial amendments" had been made to the bill but said he was not allowed to reveal further details. Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga recently said the bill would be passed as a "Christmas gift" to its advocates. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda - this bill increases the penalties.

Foreign donors have threatened to cut aid if gay rights are not respected. The bill, tabled by MP David Bahati, proposes longer jail terms for homosexual acts, including a life sentence in certain circumstances. In its original form, those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality" - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender" - faced the death penalty. Such offences would now be punished with life imprisonment, it is understood.

The original bill also prohibited the "promotion" of gay rights and called for the punishment of anyone who "funds or sponsors homosexuality" or "abets homosexuality". Mr Bahati has previously said that the death penalty provision would be dropped but this has not been confirmed until now. Mr Segona, who is on the Legal and Parliamentary committee of Uganda's parliament, told the BBC: "I can confirm it has been dropped."
Box Turtle Bulletin blogger Jim Burroway is suspicious of these claims because Ugandan legislators have lied about that in the past.
WBS Television in Uganda late yesterday posted another report on YouTube featuring statements by members of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, which is charged with marking up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill with recommended changes. There are a few troubling aspects to the report. First, the reporter claims that the death penalty has been removed for “homosexuality acts with minors,” which sounds very suspiciously like several other previous reports, later proven to be false, that the death penalty had been removed. The last time we heard that line, we would quickly learn that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, in fact, had not removed the death penalty from the bill, but instead had simply obfuscated the death penalty’s presence in the bill. A complete explanation can be found here.
All Out's petition campaign against the bill has over 160,000 signatures already.  Add your name.

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