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Uganda bill bans homosexuality

By Adam Goldstein
Published: December 2009

A bill in the Ugandan Parliament that would criminalize homosexuality if passed has met international opposition. 

There are currently around 500,000 gays out of a population of 31 million in Uganda, according to gay rights groups. 

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda but the bill would widen the offenses and increase the punishments.

The current bill involves the following provisions:

1.) Gays and lesbians convicted of having gay sex would be sentenced to a minimum of life in prison,

2.) People who test positive for HIV may be executed, 

3.) Homosexuals who have sex with a minor, or engage in homosexual activity more than once, may also receive the death penalty.

The bill forbids the “promotion of homosexuality, which would ban organizations working in HIV and AIDS prevention.

Anyone who knows of homosexual activity taking place but does not report it risks up to three years in prison.

If the bill passes, a witch-hunt that has already begun would intensify. 

Ugandan tabloids have already begun “outing homosexuals regardless of the truth of their accusations. 

Many worldwide organizations have condemned the bill and have called upon nations to cut Uganda off from foreign aid, which currently make up 40 percent of the countries budget.

“This draft bill is clearly an attempt to divide and weaken civil society by striking at one of its most marginalized groups, Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in an interview with CNN. “The government may be starting here, but who will be next?

Despite the worldwide opposition Ugandan officials claim that the bill is simply “democracy at work. 

The bill is intended to “protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex, says David Buhati, a member of parliament who tabled the bill.

A poll taken in the summer of 2009 indicates that most of Uganda agrees with Buhati. 

The poll found that 95 percent of people were opposed to legalizing homosexuality. Prominent Ugandan Christian and Muslim leaders also agree with the actions the bill would take, but their beliefs are not similarly found outside of Uganda.

In the United States Christian leaders released a statement on December 7 condemning the bill. 

“Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, in our churches, communities and families, we seek to embrace our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as God’s children, worthy of respect and love, the statement said. 

The bill is currently in committee, and many international figures including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the United States Government have attempted to reason with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda to seemingly no avail.

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