Last Minute Hope for LGBT Ugandans as Hate Bill Sits in the In-Tray

Equalities and human rights activists inside and outside Uganda are hoping the President might not sign the notorious Anti-homosexuality Bill. Although passed in parliament on Friday the 20th of December, the Bill was reportedly ‘rushed through parliament’ without prior notice. It was opposed by Ugandan PM Amama Mbabazi, who argued that not enough MPs were present for a quorum. a challenge that might yet discourage President Museveni from signing the bill into law when it goes to him for its final assent.
The bill was first introduced in 2009 by MP David Bahati. Originally called the ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill, it threatened the death penalty for people who engaged in certain homosexual acts.  Although this has gone, a life sentence could be imposed for a person who takes part in any homosexual act, including touching, according to human rights campigner Peter Tatchell.
Peter also noted that non-nationals in Uganda are subject to the laws and Ugandans abroad can face extradition proceedings and be prosecuted for acts they are involved in outside the country.
The bill also makes it a crime punishable by a prison sentence not to report same-sex sexual activities to the police.
Bahati said: “I am glad the parliament has voted against evil. Because we are a God-fearing nation, we value life in a holistic way. It is because of those values that members of parliament passed this bill regardless of what the outside world thinks.” He claimed the nation needed to defend itself against ‘western funded groups’ that recruited ‘children into gay lifestyles’.
Ugandan LGBT rights activist Frank Mugisha described it as ‘a terrifying day’ for LGBT Ugandans. Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who was excommunicated from the Church of Uganda for his opposition to homophobia, said: “I condemn it in very strong terms because it shows there’s a lot of misinformation, misunderstanding.” However, he also sounded an optimistic note that eventually things will change.
Global leaders roundly condemned the bill as an affront to fundamental human rights protections. US President Barack Obama, for example, has described the bill as “odious”.
The news comes just days after India re-criminalised same sex relationships and the Nigerian Senate also endorsed a bill toughening its existing anti-LGBT laws.
As in the case of Nigeria, some donors have suggested that they could cut aid to Uganda if the bill is signed into law. Peter Tatchell, IDAHO and Amnesty International have also condemned the passing of the Bill.