Friday, February 19, 2010

Uganda Anti-Gay Bill Explained

The controversial Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 has generated a great deal of attention. The proposed law would sentence HIV positive homosexuals to death for having sex and punish homosexuals by life imprisonment. International pressure on Uganda is mounting to withdrawal the bill. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech on human rights, said that the “law should not become an instrument of oppression". Even President Obama called the proposed law "odious" in a recent speech saying "We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are -- whether it's here in the United States or ... more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda." See Reuters report.

A close reading of the proposed law shows it to be more wide-reaching than its proponents suggest. Ugandans don't have to be gay or have gay sex to face the death sentence under the law which makes being a "serial offender" punishable by execution. A serial offender is a person who has "previous convictions" for "homosexuality OR RELATED OFFENCES." In other words, if a Ugandan has one prior conviction for a violation under the Bill and then has a subsequent conviction he or she will be classified as a serial offender and face execution. "Related offences" in the Bill include non-sexual acts such as:

    • aiding and abetting homosexuality
    • advocating same-sex relationships or LGBT rights
    • having a same-sex marriage
    • publicising or funding pro-LGBT organisations
    • using the internet or a mobile phone for the purpose of homosexuality or its promotion
    • being a person in authority who fails to report an offender to the police within 24 hours

Under the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, all convicted serial offenders are liable to execution, regardless of their sexuality so that not just LGBT Ugandans are subject to this legislation. This YouTube video explains the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill in an instructive analysis .

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