Ugandan lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday with overwhelming majority support that would not only ban same-sex couples but could potentially see some homosexual acts punishable by death.
Following a previous law struck down by the courts in 2014, 389 of 529 members of parliament voted in favor of passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023. That bill now heads to the desk of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who recently went on record decrying Western countries for “trying to impose their practices on other people.”
During floor debate over the legislation, MP David Bahati said, “Our creator God is happy what is happening…I support the bill to protect the future of our children.”
“This is about the sovereignty of our nation, nobody should blackmail us, nobody should intimidate us,” he went on.
Introduced by MP Asuman Basalirwa, the lawmaker described, “The objective of the bill was to establish a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect traditional family values, our diverse culture, our faiths, by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and the promotion or recognition of sexual relations between persons of the same sex.”
Namely, it aims to “protect our church culture: the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.”
To achieve that end, the legislation seeks to punish any “promotion, recruitment, and funding” of activities that would be considered LGBTQ and states, “A person commits the offence of homosexuality if the person-holds out as a lesbian, gay, transgender, a queer or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.”
In establishing punishments, amendments to the bill sought to impose up to 10 years in jail for anyone found guilty of “attempted homosexuality.” For “aggravated homosexuality” which includes rape of a minor or sexual activity while infected with HIV, the death penalty would be a likely outcome as an amendment read, “A person who commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality and is liable, on conviction to suffer death.”
“Congratulations,” Uganda House Speaker Anita Among said upon its passage. “Whatever we are doing, we are doing it for the people of Uganda.”
Should Museveni sign it into law as expected, Uganda would join the majority of African countries in outlawing homosexuality as more than 30 of 54 already do.
Understandably, not everyone was pleased with this outcome as Oryem Nyeko of Human Rights Watch decried the move.
“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalizes people simply for being who they are as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda,” Nyeko said.
The organization accused the bill of violating “multiple fundamental rights, including rights to freedom of expression and association, privacy, equality, and non-discrimination.”
“Ugandan politicians should focus on passing laws that protect vulnerable minorities and affirm fundamental rights and stop targeting LGBT people for political capital,” Nyeko added.
However, Ugandans feel as though it is the rest of the world that is drifting further from values as the Associated Press noted Ugandan Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba had criticized the Church of England for its move to recognize same-sex unions as marriage.
“The Church of England has departed from the Anglican faith and are now false teachers,” he said, referring to “a crisis at hand.”
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