As the world marked World Aids Day last week, activists seized the opportunity to take a swipe at Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, saying it would worsen the HIV/AIDS scourge. During a telephone conference with Ugandan gay rights activists organised by the NGO All Out, they expressed concern that the bill has attracted the unequivocal support of the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.
"The Bill is very insensitive and wants to put to death homosexuals who have HIV... The bigger picture is that HIV positive homosexuals will fear to go to hospital and reveal their status," said activist Jacqueline Kasha.
The bill is due to be debated and passed into law, after the Parliamentary Legal Affairs committee revised some of its clauses, including one that calls for homosexuals to be sentenced to death.
Despite the revision, Kasha is concerned that the punishment for aggravated defilement (Penal Code) is the death penalty and wants that removed, although it applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals. Kasha says the fear of the death penalty could see some hide and spread HIV instead of seeking treatment.
The MPs have declined to disclose the other changes in the revised bill save for the elimination of the death penalty. However, gay rights activists contend that if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law; support to homosexuals living with HIV will constitute a criminal offence in Uganda. The activists also claim that the Bill is fuelling the notion that homosexuals are being paid to recruit people and spread HIV.
"The fact is homosexuals are a minority group that cannot afford ARVs. Many of them engage in risky sexual behaviour," Andre Banks, Executive Director and Co-founder of All Out said.