By Ryan Aliman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
KAMPALA, Uganda – Uganda’s speaker of parliament promised that the controversial anti-homosexuality bill will pass by the end of the year as an “early Christmas gift”.
If enacted into law, the bill will impose harsher punishments on homosexual behavior.
According to The Examiner, the bill will effectively separate homosexuals into two groups. “Aggravated homosexuality” covers homosexual acts committed by authoritive figures, parents, pedophiles, or individuals who are HIV positive.
On the other end of the spectrum is the “offense of homosexuality,” a charge that applies to consenting adults in a same sex relationship.
The bill would compel doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals to report a homosexual or face arrest.
Parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that the bill will become law this year as Ugandans “are demanding it”.
“Who are we not to do what they have told us? These people should not be begging us,” Kadaga said. She added that a decision will likely be made within two weeks.
Homosexuality is already criminalized under the Ugandan penal code. However, in 2009 a lawmaker with the ruling party said the Uganda needed a stronger law to protect it’s children from homosexuals.
The proposal has drawn widespread international criticism. President Barack Obama calls it “odious” and some international donors threaten to cut off aid to Uganda should the bill be signed into law.
James Nsaba Buturo, the former ethics minister and a coalition leader, is confident of the bill’s speedy approval.
“I can tell you it has 99 percent chance. It will pass. No question about it,” Buturo said. “If there was any leader in this country who sympathizes with homosexuality, he will not say it in public. Because he knows that Ugandans, by and large, do not support that way of life.”
Buturo adds that non-Ugandans who criticize the bill are engaging in a “culture war” with Uganda. He says the bill’s re-introduction after being shelved by the last parliament shows the country will not be deterred by threats of aid cuts.
“We are saying to the world and to those who are supporting this way of life of theirs, ‘Come what may.’ They have no right whatsoever to impose their preference on this nation,” Buturo insists.
Gay rights activists in Uganda, although opposing the bill, point out that it has helped their fight for equality by putting gay rights, a taboo subject in Uganda, on the national agenda.
On the other hand, Kikonyogo Kivumbi, executive director of civil rights organisation Uhspa-Uganda, says that the anti-gay legislation is being used as a “political weapon” for the Ugandan government to influence the UN.
“Uganda is using the bill to threaten and blackmail the West,” he told IBTimes UK. “They know that respect of human rights is a sensible subject in the West and they are using it to blackmail the international community.”
For further information, please see:
Voice of America – Uganda Moves Forward on Anti-Gay Bill – 14 November 2012
The Inquisitr – Uganda Anti-Gay Bill Described as ‘Early Christmas Gift’ to The Country – 12 November 2012
The Huffington Post – Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill to Pass This Year: Official – 12 November 2012
International Business Times – Uganda Uses Anti-Gay Bill to ‘Blackmail the west’, Leading Activist Tells IBTimes – 12 November 2012