Imagine the possibility of being jailed for being who you were born to be. Imagine being sentenced to life in prison for following your heart and demonstrating the feelings of affection towards another just because that person is of the same sex. Many LGBT people in the Uganda will now live in such a world as lawmakers in Uganda have voted on and passed a new anti-gay bill that proposes tougher jail sentences for consensual same-sex behavior.
Today MetroWeekly reports that the infamous "Kill The Gays" bill has been passed through the legan and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Ugandan Parliament. Human rights attorney Ladislaus Rwakafuzi states:
The bill, originally dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill when introduced in 2009, has removed the provision of execution for “aggravated homosexuality.” According to Uganda’s NTV network – as tweeted by Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha), director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) – an unnamed member of the committee confirmed that a penalty of life imprisonment has remained in the bill in place of execution. While sexual relations between members of the same sex are already illegal in Uganda, if the bill becomes law it will be among the world’s harshest against gay people. NTV reports that the bill should receive floor debate next week. (NTV)
According to CNN on Friday, the new bill will propose tougher penalties as homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda, a country where most gays and lesbians face brutal attacks and are considered outcasts. Now the government may vote to make such treatment legal as gays and lesbians will have their lives viewed as illegal and be seen as criminals.
Amnesty International has stated their concern about the bill. Noel Kututwa, the group’s director for southern Africa, is “outraged” stating that the proposed bill “goes beyond the principle of nondiscrimination.” He also says it “goes against the principle of privacy of individuals. And sexual orientation is really a question of the right of an individual to choose how they want to live their lives.”
Back on Nov. 16, Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, demanded that lawmakers vote on the “Kill The Gays” bill soon so it could be passed before the end of the year. She said it would be a “Christmas gift” to its advocates and now they have received their "gift". Now that the bill is passed gays and lesbians can face a charge for “aggravated homosexuality”, which results when “serial offenders” stack up violations. Some offenses may include renting a room to a gay person, refusing to report a gay person to police, using the internet to advocate for the rights of gay people or donating to a pro-gay cause. Any of these offences can be committed by straight people.
In 2011 gay rights activist David Kato was beaten to death in an act that may have been motivated by homophobia. This sort of violence is evident to how severe life is for gays and lesbians living in places like Uganda, a place where even the government is out to tear them down.
Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries and in some countries the death penalty can be imposed for consensual same-sex relations.