Ugandan Lawmaker Revives Anti-Gay Bill

Amnesty International warned that the bill would be a "grave assault on the human rights" if passed.

Posted: 02/08/2012 12:12 PM EST
Uganda, anti gay bill, Amnesty International, human rights, homophobia, global news

After Uganda’s cabinet decided to abandon a controversial anti-homosexuality bill last year, one lawmaker is now attempting to revive the legislation that would make certain homosexual acts punishable by death.

"It's alarming and disappointing that Uganda's Parliament will once again consider the anti-homosexuality bill," said Michelle Kagari, the deputy Africa program director at Amnesty International. "If passed, it would represent a grave assault on the human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

The anti-homosexuality bill was initially proposed in 2009, but was shot down last year when a ruling party lawyer reasoned with members of parliament that such laws were unnecessary, given that the country already has laws in place which criminalize homosexual activity.

However, Tuesday at a meeting of the Ugandan parliament, speaker Rebecca Kadaga announced that the bill will now be reconsidered stating, “The bill will be committed to the relevant committee for expeditious scrutiny and back to the House."

According to the proposed legislation, persons who engage in a range of certain homosexual acts will face punishment by death. The law also calls for fining or imprisonment of persons “of authority” who fail to report acts of homosexuality.

Many other countries in Africa have laws criminalizing homosexual behavior and activity, drawing the ire of many donor nations who have threatened to withhold funding if situations do not improve. In December, President Obama directed all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons. And recently, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the African leaders in attendance that they must work to end sexual orientation-based discrimination on the continent.

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(Photo: REUTERS/James Akena)