The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 or the “Kill the Gays” bill, as it is most commonly referred to, created an international outcry and was shelved in 2011.
In a land where a reported 95 percent of the population does not accept homosexuality, the bill was thought of as “good for its people.” Homophobia runs rampant in Uganda, with homosexuality being viewed as an abomination, evil, and illegal.
The bill was prompted after a visit by several American missionaries, who spoke at a conference called the “Seminar on Exposing the Homosexual Agenda.” The preachers helped to create the virulent spread of homophobia throughout the country by warning the masses about indoctrination into gay lifestyles by gays visiting from the United States and Europe.
The original bill drew an onslaught of harsh criticism from leaders throughout the globe. There were threats from European nations who threatened to cut off the country from any monetary assistance if the bill passed. President Barack Obama referred to the bill as “odious” and added that it is “unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are.”
The current bill the way it stands now increases punishments for certain acts and gives 14 years to life in prison. It also calls for mandatory HIV testing in some instances. If someone knows of a homosexual and fails to report it to the authorities within 24 hours, they can also be penalized in the ultra-conservative country. The bill also proposes prison time for anyone who counsels or reaches out to gay people, so activists, human rights defenders, or even clergymen would be looking at spending time behind bars.
Bahati, the architect of the bill, is steadfast in his quest to get the legislation passed:
This is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children, Bahati told CNN. Every single day of my life now I am still pushing that it passes.
According to Amnesty International, the other provisions remain inherently discriminatory and the continued attempt to further criminalize consensual sexual activity between individuals of the same sex is abhorrent:
It’s alarming and disappointing that Uganda’s Parliament will once again consider the Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” said Michelle Kagari, deputy Africa programme 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.
This deplorable bill would not only violate the rights of Ugandans to life, to non-discrimination, to equality before the law, and to privacy, but would sanction hatred, violence and the persecution of a group of people based on whom they love alone,’ said Kagari. We strongly urge the Ugandan Parliament to reject this bill in its entirety. It must not legislate hate.