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Uganda Parliament Appears Poised To Resurrect “Kill-The-Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2011

When Uganda’s Eighth Parliament came to an end last May, the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill died with it. Almost immediately, M.P. David Bahati vowed to resurrect the bill in the Ninth Parliament.  Two weeks ago, Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda told reporters and bloggers that there are persistent reports that the bill may be resurrected sometime in mid- to late-August. Ugandan MP Otto Odonga, who has said that he would apply to be a hangman even if it were his own son who was gay and at the gallows, confirmed to Warren Throckmorton that the bill will be brought back “perhaps by the end of August,” and that it would pick up “from where the last parliament ended.”

It would be good to review where the bill was when the last Parliament ended. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee reported the bill back to Parliament during the legislative body’s last week in session amid widespread and erroneous reports that the committee recommended removing the death penalty from a newly defined crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” which would include those who are HIV-positive and those who are “repeat offenders” — meaning anyone who has had either more than one relationship or more than one sexual encounter with the same individual. The committee did recommend that the phrase “suffer death” should be replaced with “the penalty provided for aggravated defilement under Section 129 of the Penal Code Act.” But the penalty under Section 129 of the Penal Code reads that anyone who “commits a felony called aggravated defilement and is, on conviction by the High Court, liable to suffer death.”

In other words, the death penalty was replaced with — the death penalty under subterfuge. You can see a detailed rundown of other recommendations of the bill here. It is unknown at this time what form a new bill would take if it were revived in the Ninth Parliament.

The Ninth Parliament has already established a precedent for bringing a controversial bill from the Eighth Parliament’s death and put it on the fast track for passage. On July 13, Uganda’s Daily Monitor, the nation’s largest independent newspaper, reported that the Ninth Parliament had quickly revived the controversial HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, which criminalizes the transmission of HIV/AIDS with ten years imprisonment. The bill also criminalizes the transmission of AIDS from mother to child through breast milk. HIV/AIDS workers and human rights advocates say that the penalties will will discourage testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS, as lack of knowledge of one’s status will be an effective defense against charges arising from the bill. The bill is now in the HIV/AIDS Committee.

Since the close of the Eighth Parliament, MP David Bahati’s start has continued to rise. He has been named the vice-chairman of the ruling party’s caucus in Parliament. He was also named chairman of the Ugandan Fellowship, a branch of the U.S.-based secretive group known as the C Street Fellowship or The Family. During the Ugandan’ branch’s inaugural dinner for the new Parliament, First Lady and M.P. Janet Museveni told Parliamentarians that it was their duty to “recognize and fulfill God’s word.”

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