"Facts And Myths About Uganda’s ‘Kill The Gays’ Bill"
As the Uganda Parliament prepares to once again consider the infamous “Kill The Gays” bill, a lot of confusion about what the “anti-homosexuality” bill actually does has once again arisen in the media. Many news outlets — notably the BBC, among others — reported last week that lawmakers had dropped the death penalty provision, but without confirmation of a language change, it’s impossible to conclude whether this is another bait-and-switch that basically isn’t true.
According to the BBC, “substantial amendments” were made, but MP Medard Segona could provide no further details. It is just such a proposed amendment that has repeatedly caused confusion about the fate of the death penalty in the bill, replacing the word “death” with a reference to a preexisting Penal Code Act that does allow for the death penalty. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda; the sole purpose of this bill is to enhance the extent of the punishment and number of ways offenses can be prosecuted. It is irresponsible to suggest that the death penalty has been removed without a thorough investigation of the bill’s new language.
Box Turtle Bulletin has thoroughly dissected the proposed law’s original text, pointing out that even without a death penalty, the law would still “represent a barbaric regression for Uganda’s human rights record.” Here’s what BTB found:
- Clauses 1 and 2: Anybody Can Be Gay Under the Law. The definition of what constitutes “homosexual act” is so broad that just about anyone can be convicted.
- Clause 3: Anyone Can Be “Liable To Suffer Death”. And you don’t even have to be gay to be sent to the gallows.
- Clause 4: Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”. All you have to do is “attempt” to “touch” “any part of of the body” “with anything else” “through anything” in an act that does “not necessarily culminate in intercourse.”
- Clauses 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10: How To Get Out Of Jail Free. The bill is written to openly encourage — and even pay — one partner to turn state’s evidence against another.
- Clauses 7, 11, and 14: Straight People In The Crosshairs. Did you think they only wanted to jail gay people? They’re also targeting family members, doctors, lawyers, and even landlords.
- Clause 12: Till Life Imprisonment Do You Part. And if you officiate a same-sex wedding, you’ll be imprisoned for up to three years. So much for religious freedom.
- Clause 13: The Silencing of the Lambs. All advocacy — including suggesting that the law might be repealed — will land you in jail. With this clause, there will be no one left to defend anyone.
- Clause 14: The Requirement Isn’t To Report Just Gay People To Police. It’s To Report Everyone. Look closely: the requirement is to report anyone who has violated any the bill’s clauses.
- Clauses 16 and 17: The Extra-Territorially Long Arm of Ugandan Law. Think you’re safe if you leave the country? Think again.
- Clause 18: We Don’t Need No Stinking Treaties. The bill not only violates several international treaties, it also turns the Ugandan constitution on its head.
- Clauses 15 and 19: The Establishment Clauses For The Ugandan Inquisition. These clauses empower the Ethics and Integrity Minister to enforce all of the bill’s provisions. He’s already gotten a head start.
The bill has passed out of committee and been placed on the Parliamentary agenda and it could come up as early as tomorrow, or linger for weeks as has happened in the past. If and when it does pass, news outlets must carefully examine its extremities and report them accurately. There is no redeeming value to this bill, and lawmakers who support it have every reason to soften their language while maintaining their most insidious “anti-homosexuality” intentions.