KAMPALA — Uganda’s speaker of parliament has promised that the controversial anti-homosexuality bill, dubbed the “Kill the Gays Bill,” will pass by the end of the year, calling it a “Christmas gift” to the nation.
“Ugandans want that law as a Christmas gift. They have asked for it and we’ll give them that gift,” parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga told Reuters on Tuesday.
The bill, originally introduced in 2009 by MP David Bahati, proposes jail terms for homosexual acts, including a life sentence in certain circumstances.
While existing laws in Uganda already outlaws gay sex, the propose bill also prohibits any “promotion” of gay rights and calls for the punishment of anyone who “funds or sponsors homosexuality” or “abets homosexuality”.
A clause which called for the death penalty against people found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” — defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a “serial offender” — has reportedly been stripped from the legislation and replaced with shorter prison sentences.
James Nsaba Buturo, the former ethics minister and a coalition leader, says the measure’s widespread popularity will speed its approval.
“I can tell you it has 99 percent chance. It will pass. No question about it,” Buturo said. “If there was any leader in this country who sympathizes with homosexuality, he will not say it in public. Because he knows that Ugandans, by and large, do not support that way of life.”
President Barack Obama has called the legislation “odious” and some international donors threaten to cut off aid if the bill is signed into law, leaving Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni struggling to balance the demands of the evangelical church on one side and aid donors on the other.
Homosexuality is illegal in 37 countries on the African continent, including Uganda, and activists say few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and loss of jobs.