Uganda considers anti-gay bill, death penalty for ‘serial offenders’

Uganda flagThe Ugandan Parliament is now considering a homophobic law that would reaffirm penalties for homosexuality and criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality.”

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 targets lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Ugandans, their defenders and anyone else who fails to report them to the authorities whether they are inside or outside of Uganda.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) are calling for the swift dismissal of the bill and human rights protections for all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Uganda’s Penal Code Article 145a already criminalizes “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” – a charge used to prosecute, persecute and blackmail LGBT people with the threat of life imprisonment.

The new bill would specifically penalize homosexuality, using life imprisonment to punish anything from sexual stimulation to simply “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” It also punishes “aggravated homosexuality” – including activity by “serial offenders” or those who are HIV positive – with the death penalty.

The bill criminalizes “promotion of homosexuality” in the form of funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality and punishes these acts with a steep fine, 5-7 years of imprisonment, or both.

Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison – even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends. More shocking, the bill claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country.

The bill effectively bans any kind of community or political organizing around non-heteronormative sexuality.

According to the pro-government New Vision newspaper, opposition to the bill appears minimal.

More at Human Rights Watch.

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