Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

31 October 2011

Uganda: Anti-Gay Bill Back On Table

Photo: riekhavoc
File photo: A protest at the Ugandan mission to the United Nations.

analysis

It has been reported that Ugandan MPs have voted to re-open debate on the country's infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Discussion of the legislation was originally postponed because the previous parliamentary session ran out of time, but it seems things are very much back on track now.

To remind you, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill aims to make homosexuality punishable by the death penalty. It would also criminalise various related acts, such as giving jail time to people who fail to turn over gay people to the police, and people who "promote" homosexuality.

The bill was originally proposed in October 2009 by Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati, and drew horror from the international community.

But this Tuesday the parliamentary Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, informed parliament that the bill is now being sent for vetting to various parliamentary committees before returning for a final vote.

Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper reported MP Barnabus Tinkasimire launching a spirited defence of the bill during Tuesday's parliamentary session, saying that the "spirit of his ancestors" told him "they lived without these practices". Tinkasimire urged the parliament not to weight the need for donor money higher than the need to eliminate "such ills in our society".

If the Ugandan parliament passes the act, one outcome (other than a probable flurry of asylum requests to other nations from Ugandan gays) is almost certain to be a big cut of UK funding.

Earlier this month the UK Secretary for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, announced that the UK would reduce financial assistance to any African countries which persecute homosexuals.

They have already suspended £19 million to Malawi for this reason, and Mitchell explicitly warned that Uganda stood to suffer the same fate if they pressed ahead with this kind of legislation. It remains to be seen whether this punishment will be sufficient deterrent. DM

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