Museveni To Drop Death Penalty, WaPo Says Bill Is Still “Ugly and Ignorant”
January 7th, 2010
There are reports out this morning that Uganda President Yoweri Museveni wants the death penalty provision removed from the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is now before Parliament. The Washington Post, in a strongly worded editorial this morning, says that this move is not worth celebrating.
As currently written, the bill would:
- Expand the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to”touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.”
- Affirm Uganda’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
- Define a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender” (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is death by hanging.
- Require anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.”
- Criminalize “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment of seven years.
- Criminalize “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It could also be used against anyone extending counseling or otherwise aiding gay people. It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality.
- Criminalize the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Add a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
- Penalize landlords and hotel owners with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people.
- Add an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
- Void all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.
As you can see, dropping the death penalty clause barely scratches the surface of what the Washington Post calls an “ugly and ignorant piece of legislation.”
This retreat from the death sentence originally proposed should neither be celebrated nor considered a concession by the government in response to pressure from the United States and other nations. The proposal is barbaric. That it is even being considered puts Uganda beyond the pale of civilized nations.