Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”

Clause by Clause With Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 14th, 2012

The proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, as published in the official Uganda Gazette on September 25, 2009.

The proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009. (Click to download, PDF: 847KB/16 pages)

Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been re-introduced into Parliament and is currently in the hands of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. As the Committee considers what to do with the bill, there has been considerable confusion over what would happen if the bill were to become law. Most of the attention has focused on the bill’s death penalty provision, but even if it were removed, the bill’s other seventeen clauses would still represent a barbaric regression for Uganda’s human rights record. In this series, we will examine the original text of bill’s eighteen clauses to uncover exactly what it includes in its present form.

The next clause in Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill is Clause 4:

4. Attempt to commit homosexuality.
(1) A person who attempts to commit the offence of homosexuality commits a felony and is liable on conviction to imprisonment seven years.

(2) A person who attempts to commit the offence of aggravated homosexuality commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

After having dealt with Clauses 1 and 2 (which sets up the “crime” of homosexuality) and Clause 3 (the infamous death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”), I hardly know what do do with this one. Particularly in light of the extraordinarily broad definition of the “crime” of homosexuality in Clauses 1 and 2 — where the crime of “touching” “any part of of the body” “with anything else” (a finger? an elbow? a Ronco Pocket Fisherman?) “through anything” in an act that does “not necessarily culminate in intercourse” can land you a lifetime in a Ugandan prison. Given that, it’s hard to know how someone can simply “attempt” to “touch” “any part of of the body” “with anything else”  “through anything” without “culminat(ing) in intercourse” in a way that lands you seven years in prison. Or for life if you do all of that while HIV-positive.

Can you imagine the prosecutor in a case like this?

“Your honor, the defendant did maliciously and willfully attempt to touch another man’s shoulder with his kneecap through his jeans and the victim’s hoodie without culminating in intercourse, but failed to complete the attempt. The State demands seven years!”

“Beg your pardon Your Honor. The man whose shoulder he attempted to touch (but didn’t) with his kneecap through his jeans and the victim’s hoodie without culminating in intercourse, is missing a leg. That’s ‘attempted aggravated homosexuality’! The State demands life!”

In an extraordinarily rare spasm of legislative wisdom, Uganda’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee appears to have thought the better of this provision. According to a Human Rights Watch report, “the committee states that provisions criminalizing ‘attempted’ homosexuality should be removed, rightly stating such allegations would be very difficult to prove.” However, the Eighth Parliament closed before the legislature could act on the committee’s recommendations. As of last week, when the original bill was reintroduced in Parliament, this nonsensical provision was reintroduced with the rest.

Clause By Clause With Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
Clauses 1 and 2: Anybody Can Be Gay
Clause 3: Anyone Can Be “Liable To Suffer Death”
Clause 4: Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”
Clauses 5 and 6: Anyone Can Be A Victim (And Get Out Of Jail Free If You Act Fast)
Clauses 7 and 14: Anyone Can “Aid And Abet”
Clauses 8 to 10: A Handy Menu For “Victims” To Choose From
Clauses 11, 14, 16 and 17: Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide
Clause 12: Till Life Imprisonment Do You Part
Clause 13: The Silencing of the Lambs
Clause 14: The Requirement Isn’t Only To Report Gay People To Police. It’s To Report Everyone.
Clauses 15 and 19: The Establishment Clauses For The Ugandan Inquisition

Ian

February 15th, 2012

So you won’t be dead on first attempt?

“felony” means an offence which is declared by law to be a felony or if not declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable without proof of previous conviction, with DEATH or with imprisonment for 3 years or more.;

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